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Duns Scotus 



translated by 
Allan Wolter, o.f.m. 


General Editor 
Raymond Klibansky 

Frothingham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics 
McGill University 

Honorary Fellow of the Warburg Institute 
University of London 

Nihil obstat : 

Roy Effler, o.f.m. 
Censor Deputatus 

Imprimi potesl : 

Eligius Weir, o.f.m. 
Minister Provincialis 

Nihil obstat : 

Philotheus Boehner, o.f.m. 
Censor Deputatus 

Imprimatur : 

' Josephus Aloisius 
Episcopus Buffalensis 


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Beginning of the Ordinatio of Duns Scotus 

From MS lat. 3114 of the Bibtiotheque Rationale, 
Paris, fol. i r ". (Photo B.N.) 




A selection 
edited and translated 


Professor of Philosophy at the Franciscan Institute 
St Bonaventure , JV. X. 



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© Allan Wolter 1962 
Reprinted 1963 


In a volume of the present size, a compiler can give a 
broader if somewhat piecemeal view of a man’s philo- 
sophy by limiting the length of the selections, or he may 
sacrifice comprehensiveness of subject matter in the 
interests of revealing his thinker at work. I have chosen 
the latter alternative, building the present selection 
around five key questions concerned with God and the 
human soul, the two philosophical topics of greatest 
interest to an ex professo theologian like Duns Scotus. 

Following the Avicennian interpretation of Aristotelian 
metaphysics, like Albertus Magnus, Siger of Brabant, 
Aquinas and most scholastics of his day, Scotus envisioned 
God as the goal of any rational metaphysic whose subject 
is being qua being. The two selections dealing with the 
existence and unicity of God, then, form the core of his 
“first philosophy”. They are introduced by a few short 
sections in which Scotus describes this “transcendental 
science” and the type of conclusion it purports to 
establish, followed by a question wherein the Subtle 
Doctor analyzes his philosophical concept of God in 
terms of his controversial thesis regarding the univocity 
of being. Of the two questions about the human soul, 
one touches on its spirituality and immortality, the other 
concerns its ability to attain certain knowledge. 

Taken from Scotus’s most important work, his Ordinatio 
(called more frequently, if less accurately, his Oxford 
Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard), the key 
questions are presented in their entirety, except for 
certain minor marginal notes in the manuscript text and 
— where Scotus has combined several questions into one 
— those portions not germane to the question selected. 
The manuscript (Codex Assisii, bibliotheca commun- 
alis 137) from which the Latin text is taken, repre- 




sents an early fourteenth-century attempt at a critical 
edition of this work and is the basis of the Vatican edition 
now in progress. Where the text is obviously at fault, 
however, I have not hesitated to adopt a better manu- 
script reading for the translation. 

The short bibliography makes no attempt to do justice 
to the flood of recent Scotistic literature, especially in 
foreign languages, but is limited to larger English mono- 
graphs on specific aspects of Scotus’s philosophy or to 
works like those of Father Copleston or Miss Sharp, 
wherein a fairly brief but comprehensive account of 
Scotus’s general philosophical positions can be found. 

May I take this occasion to express my indebtedness 
to the late Father Philotheus Boehner, o.f.m., and to 
Father Gaudens Mohan, o.f.m., of the Franciscan 
Institute, for help in preparing and checking the Latin 
text. I am deeply grateful also to Professor Raymond 
Klibansky for his part in bringing this volume to fruition, 
though I have not been able to accept all his suggestions. 
I take full responsibility both for the constitution of the 
text and for the translation. 

Allan B. Wolter 

The Franciscan Institute, 

St Bonaventure, N.Y. 





Concerning Metaphysics 



Man’s Natural Knowledge of God 



The Existence of God 



The Unicity of God 



Concerning Human Knowledge 

9 6 


The Spirituality and Immortality of the 
Human Soul 







Documentary data on the life of John Duns Scotus are 
scanty. Scarcely more than half a dozen definite chrono- 
logical records are available. The earliest date men- 
tioned in connexion with Scotus is found in the Chronicle 
of the Scottish Franciscans, transcribed in the sixteenth 
century by W. Tweedy, a notary public of Haddington. 
As preserved in the eighteenth-century Monasticon Scoti- 
canum of Marianus Brockie, o.s.b., the chronicle states : 

In the year 1278 Friar Elias Duns, guardian of Dumfries, came 
to Haddington and in the presence of the other guardians in a 
chapter of the Order received the office of vicar general of the 
Kingdom of Scotland and took back with him to Dumfries 
that celebrated theologian, John Duns, called Scotus by 
reason of his country, and gave him the habit of religion. For 
he [John] was his nephew by his brother Ninian Duns of 
Littledean and had attended the lower schools of Haddington, 
where he had given remarkable indications of his future 

Though L. Meier, o.f.m. has recently attempted to dis- 
credit the value of this entry, his reasons do not appear 
too convincing. Until further proof is forthcoming, we 
can hardly ignore or reject the testimony of this chronicle 

More certain, however, is the next record, that of 
Scotus’s ordination to the priesthood by Oliver Sutton, 
Bishop of Lincoln, on 17 March 1291. Of the forty- 
eight priests ordained that day in the priory of St Andrew, 
Northampton, five were Franciscans, including “Fr. 
Johannes Dons”. 

On 26 July 1300 Scotus was at Oxford, for we find his 
name among the twenty-two friars of the Oxford convent 
whose names the English provincial, Hugh of Hartlepool, 
submitted to John Dalderby, Bishop of Lincoln, for 
faculties to hear confessions. 



The colophon of Codex 66 of Merton College, Oxford, 
contains this note by an early fourteenth-century hand : 
“This is from the Ordinatio of the Venerable Friar John 
Duns of the Order of Friars Minor who flourished at 
Cambridge, Oxford and Paris, and died in Cologne”. 

At the end of the Worcester manuscript (f 69), one of 
the earliest of Scotus’s Parisian lectures on the Sentences, 
is the remark that Scotus began commenting on the first 
book “at Paris in the year of the Lord 1302, the third 
having started”, and that he commented on the fourth 
book “in the study at Paris in the year 1303”. The 
phrase “the third having started” seems to be a reference 
to the autumn term (from about 9 October 1302 until 
April 1303). According to “Gallican custom” the new 
year began on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. 

Scotus’s presence in Paris at this time is confirmed by 
the fact that we find his name listed among those friars 
who on 25 June 1303 refused to support King Philip IV 
in his appeal to a general council against Pope Boni- 
face VIII. The penalty for such opposition was exile 
from France within three days. 

Scotus was evidently back in Paris again by the end 
of 1304, for the Minister General of the Franciscans, 
Gonsalvus of Spain, sent a letter from Ascoli in the 
March of Ancona on 18 November 1304 to William, 
guardian of the Franciscan convent at Paris. It reads as 
follows : 

In reference to the promotion of Friar Giles of Ligny, about 
whom I have been informed by your letters, we ought, as the 
custom is, to make provision for another similar presentation. 
Since, according to the statutes of the Order and the statutes 
of your convent, the bachelor to be presented at this time should 
belong to some province other than the province of France, I 
assign to you Friar John Scotus, of whose laudable life, excellent 
knowledge, and most subtle ability, as well as his other remark- 
able qualities, I am fully informed, partly from long experience 
and partly from report which has been spread everywhere — 
to be presented primarily and in the regular course after the 



said Friar Giles. I enjoin you nevertheless that you make such 
presentation with due solemnity without much expense. If, 
however, you should be certain that the Chancellor be willing 
to license two of our friars at the same time, I desire that Friar 
Albert of Metz, if he shall be able to return to the convent, be 
promoted together with the said Friar John. In which case, I 
rule that Friar Albert on account of his seniority should incept 
first, Friar John incepting afterwards under him. Farewell in 
the Lord and pray for me. Given in the place of Ascoli of the 
province of the March of Ancona, xiv Kal. Dec. 1304. 

A final mention of Scotus is found in the records of a 
provincial chapter at Cologne where he signed as “Fr. 
Johannes, lector Coloniae”. The document gives per- 
mission for the erection of a convent and is dated more 
Gallicorum 20 Feb. 1307 (actually 1308). 

These documents, when viewed against the general 
historical background of the times, make it possible to 
construct the following more or less probable sketch of 
Scotus’s life. 

His family name was Duns. At the time Scotus was 
in Paris there were more than forty other friars in the 
Franciscan convent by the name of John. Here he 
received the additional title of “Scotus” by reason of his 
nationality. At the time when John Duns studied at 
Paris “Scotus” apparently was used exclusively in the 
sense of “a native of Scotland”, and not, as in earlier 
times, to designate indiscriminately Irish or Scottish 
ancestry. This is confirmed if we accept the testimony of 
the Chronicle of the Scottish Franciscans as recorded by 

There are two main branches of the Duns family, the 
Duns of Duns in Berwickshire, who belonged to the 
nobility, and the Duns of Maxton-on-the-Tweed, who 
if not of the nobility owned rather extensive farming 
lands. According to E. Longpre, o.f.m., the estate of 
Ninian Duns, the father of Scotus, was known as Little- 
dean, and is situated on the southern bank of the River 
Tweed about two miles downstream from the village of 



Maxton, Roxburghshire. A popular tradition, however, 
which goes back for centuries claims that John belonged 
to the Berwickshire branch. His father was the younger 
son of the Duns of Grueldykes and lived on an estate 
adjoining the present town of Duns. The house where 
tradition maintains John was born stood near the more 
westerly lodge, now called Pavilion Lodge, of Duns 
Castle. In the course of improvements made in 1790, 
the large stone marking the site of the house was built 
into the nearby dyke and, according to local historians, 
was pointed out for generations, but is now apparently 

Scotus was probably born early in 1266. Since Bishop 
Sutton ordained at Northampton on both 23 December 
1290 and 17 March 1291, A. Callebaut, o.f.m. argues that 
Scotus must have come of canonical age somewhere 
between these two dates. This would place his birth 
somewhere between 23 December 1265 and 17 March 
1266. Conflicting with this interpretation, however, is 
the statement of the Chronicle, above, that Scotus’s uncle, 
Friar Elias Duns, took his nephew with him to Dumfries 
and “gave him the habit of religion”. Now the earliest 
age at which Scotus could canonically have entered the 
novitiate of the Franciscans was fifteen. However, it is 
not unlikely, in view of the custom of the times, that 
Scotus would have stayed at the convent as a puer oblatus 
or postulant, continuing his studies under some of the 
friars, until he was old enough to enter the Order. On 
this score, Callebaut places his entrance into the novitiate 
late in 1279 or early in 1280 and his solemn profession of 
vows a year later. 

If Scotus entered the Scottish branch of the friars, it 
may seem strange that he is referred to in some manu- 
scripts as belonging to the English province, unless we 
recall the history of the Greyfriars in Scotland. In 1231 
the Franciscan friars, who had come to England some 
seven years earlier, established friaries in Scotland. In 



1235 these friaries were given the status of an inde- 
pendent vicariate, but soon after were returned to the 
jurisdiction of the English Custody of Newcastle. In 
1260 the young King of Scots, Alexander III, petitioned 
Pope Alexander IV to restore the independence of the 
Scottish friars. The matter was referred to the General 
Chapter of the Franciscans, which refused the request, 
owing in part to pressure brought to bear on the Order 
by the King of England. But in 1278 Alexander, King 
of Scots, went to the Minister General of the friars, 
Jerome of Ascoli (later Pope Nicholas IV), who granted 
the Scots an independent vicariate. Elias Duns, Scotus’s 
uncle, became the first Vicar General, directly responsible 
to the Minister General of the Franciscan order. In 
1296, however, the vicariate was once more subjected 
to the English province, but the Scots were permitted to 
retain their Vicar General and were independent of the 
Custody of Newcastle. 

What happened between Scotus’s entry into the 
Order and his ordination in 1291 is a matter of con- 
jecture, as is also the period between 1291 and 1300 
when he was again at Oxford. L. Meier, basing his 
speculation on the requirements of Oxford University, 
suggests that Scotus devoted some eight years to the 
studying and teaching of philosophy (1283-91) in 
England, and locates the Cambridge teaching episode 
during this period. The nine prescribed years devoted 
to the study of theology at Oxford, Meier places between 
Scotus’s ordination and 1300. Callebaut, on the other 
hand, stresses the requirements of the University of Paris. 
Scotus, according to his theory, must have spent at least 
four years in the study of theology at Paris some time 
after 1292. The teaching period at Cambridge could 
have followed this. If Scotus did go to Paris before 
1300 it might explain why the Minister General, Gon- 
salvus of Spain, could speak of having learned of Scotus’s 
fitness “partly from long experience”. Where would the 



Spanish friar have met the young Scot if not at Paris, 
where Gonsalvus had taught both as a bachelor (c. 1297) 
and later as master of theology ( 1 302-3) ? 

At any rate, by 1300 Scotus was back at the Oxford 
convent. In addition to the testimony of the document 
of the English Provincial mentioned above, Scotus’s 
presence at Oxford is confirmed by the fact that he took 
part as a bachelor in the Vesperies of Friar Philip 
Bridlington (one of the public disputations connected with 
the licensing of a new master). Philip, however, became 
a regent master at Oxford around 1300. That Scotus 
was commenting on the Sentences of Peter Lombard at 
Oxford around this time is also attested to by Thomas 
Sutton o.p., a contemporary and hostile critic of Scotus 
who was at the English university between 1300 and 

Scotus never became a master at Oxford, for his 
superiors sent him on to Paris to take the doctorate or 
mastership of theology there. According to the Wor- 
cester manuscript we can infer that he must have arrived 
in Paris in time for the autumn term of 1302. Accord- 
ing to Pelster, s.j., John Duns lectured on Book I of the 
Sentences from g October 1302 to about April 1303. He 
then began immediately with Book IV and finished his 
lectures on it in June of that year. Ordinarily the 
bachelor had to begin on the day before the feast of 
St Denis (10 October) and end by 29 June, the feast 
of St Peter and St Paul. If he had not finished all his 
lectures owing to sickness, absence or the like, the 
sententiarius had to make up during the summer as many 
lectures as he had missed. Lectures on Books II and III 
(up to Dist. xvii) must have occurred between 1 303 and 
1304, for on 18 November 1304 he was recommended 
by the Minister General, Gonsalvus, for the mastership 
and must therefore have completed the requisite lectures 
on the four books of the Sentences. 

Apparently Scotus’s Parisian lectures were interrupted, 



by the decree of King Philip the Fair. The French 
monarch had quarrelled with Pope Boniface VIII over 
the taxation of church property to support Philip’s 
standing armies for his wars with England. When the 
Pope excommunicated the King, the latter appealed to 
a General Council of the Church to depose the Pope. 
He won over the French clergy, the universities and others 
to his cause. A great anti-papal demonstration took 
place on 24 June 1303. Mendicants of Paris marched 
in the procession. Berthold of St Denis, Bishop of 
Orleans and ex-Chancellor of the University of Paris, 
together with two Dominicans and two Franciscans, 
addressed the meeting. The following day royal com- 
missioners examined each friar at the Franciscan convent 
to find out whether he was with or against the King. Some 
seventy friars, mostly French, sided with the King, while 
the rest (some eighty odd) remained loyal to the Pope. 
Among the latter we find the name of Scotus. According 
to royal orders, the Pope’s partisans were to leave France 
within three days. Boniface countered with the Bull of 
15 August 1303, in which he suspended the University’s 
right to give degrees in theology, canon and civil law. 
This ban was withdrawn by Pope Benedict X in April 
1304, and shortly afterwards the King facilitated the 
return of students. 

Where Scotus went during this exile is unknown. 
England, Bologna and Cologne have all been suggested. 
Pelster believes that the exile must have been short and 
that Scotus was soon back in Paris commenting on 
Books II and III at least by 1304. He either finished his 
lectures on Book III by June of that year, or perhaps 
continued to lecture during the summer until the follow- 
ing September. The remaining parts of Book III, Pelster 
maintains, were completed at another time in England. 

Be that as it may, by November 1304 Scotus must have 
completed all of his requirements as a bachelor formatus. 
In fact, he was the respondent in Giles of Ligny’s disputatio 



in aula (which followed the vesperies as a part of the for- 
malities connected with Giles’s inception as master 
of theology). To participate in such a disputation, 
however, Scotus had to have completed his lectures 
on the Sentences before the beginning of the autumn 

Probably Scotus’s own inception as master took place 
early in 1305. That the customary interval between the 
completion of the lectures on the Sentences and being 
licensed as master (four years according to university 
statutes) did not intervene was due probably to one of 
the many privileges granted to the friars. 

The fact that we have but one Quodlibet of Scotus 
argues that he may not have taught as regent master for 
more than one year. Glorieux dates this 1 306-7, though 
if Scotus began teaching in the autumn of 1305 his 
regency could have terminated in 1306. Pelster believes 
he returned to England in that year and composed the 
Lectura completa, but this is little more than a surmise. He 
may have gone directly from Paris to Cologne. At any 
rate, the last record of Scotus’s life indicates that he was 
in Cologne in February 1308, and if he had been teaching 
during the current semester, as the title “lector Coloniae” 
indicates, he must have begun at least by the autumn of 
1307 - 

Various reasons have been assigned for his presence in 
Cologne. Callebaut and others have argued that the 
Minister General of the Friars sent him there to escape 
the consequences of his opposition to the King’s action 
against the Knights Templars or that Scotus’s departure 
was connected in some way with his defence of the -doc- 
trine of the Immaculate Conception against its Dominican 
adversaries. Longpre suggests a more prosaic reason, 
and one perhaps nearer the truth, namely the common 
custom in the Order of sending the more brilliant lectors 
from one study house to another in rotation. At any 
rate, Scotus served a brief lectorship at Cologne. The 

( 2 , 322 ) 



traditional date of his death is 8 Nov ember 1308. His 
remains are still venerated in Cologne. 

It is deplorable that Scotus’s early death left almost 
every one of his great works in an unfinished state. But 
so great was his fame and following that his disciples 
made every effort to put his writings before the public. 
With apparently more haste than prudence, they shuffled 
together earlier and later redactions, inserted parts to be 
deleted alongside their corrected substitutes and incor- 
porated notes found in the margins or on scattered slips 
sandwiched between the pages of the master. It is only 
after some thirty odd years of intense research by men 
like Pelster, Pelzer, Longpre, Balic and others that some 
semblance of order has begun to emerge from the chaos. 
Not only have many treatises been proved spurious, but 
even the certainly authentic writings appear in a new 
light. Today the following works are ascribed to Scotus. 


i . Commentaries on the Sentences 

Scotus commented on the Sentences of Peter Lombard at 
least twice, once at Oxford and again at Paris. From 
the seventeenth century down to our own, these two 
commentaries were referred to respectively as the Opus 
oxoniense (or Ordinatio) and the Opus parisiense (or Reportata 
parisiensia) . Modern research has not only revealed the 
existence of other unedited reports of these lectures on the 
Sentences but has rediscovered the meaning of the terms 
ordinatio and reporlatio. The original lecture of a master 
or bachelor as copied down by one of his students, or 
some scribe, is known as a reportatio. If such a “reported 
version” was later checked by the teacher himself, it is 
referred to as a reportatio examinata. In many cases the 
author would revise his original lectures before pre- 
senting them for final publication. This last redaction 



or finished product is known as an ordinatio, inasmuch as 
it represents the final draft as ordered or arranged by the 
author himself. As applied to Scotus’s Commentary on the 
Sentences, the Ordinatio, to which the redactor of the Assisi 
manuscript, used by us (Communalis 137), had access, 
is a revision of the Oxford lectures. Internal evidence 
suggests that some parts of the redaction antedate the 
Paris lectures, while for other portions Scotus made use 
of a reportatio of the latter. The Opus oxoniense as we 
have it in the Wadding and Vives editions is not the 
pure Ordinatio, however, but contains other elements. 
One of the principal tasks of the Scotistic Commission 
under the direction of Carl Balic, o.f.m. at Rome is to 
reconstruct the text of the original Ordinatio and separate 
it from the major and minor additions taken from other 
writings of Duns Scotus. The enormity of this task can 
be realised from the fact that it was only after twelve 
years that Balic and his many collaborators published 
the first small fraction of the monumental Ordinatio in 
the two initial volumes of the critical Vatican edition of 
the Opera omnia of Scotus (Rome 1950). 

In addition to the Ordinatio, which constitutes the 
principal part of the Opus oxoniense, there is the Lectura 
oxoniensis ( Opera omnia, Vatican ed., vol. xvi) on the 
first and second books of the Sentences. Sometimes re- 
ferred to as Prima lectura, it is believed to be a reportatio of 
Scotus’s first lectures at Oxford. Still another reportatio is 
the Lectura in III Sententiarum (still unedited) . It is also 
called the Lectura completa in contradistinction to the 
Parisian reportatio of the third book which ends abruptly 
after Dist. xvii. 

Another set of questions on the first two books of the 
Sentences goes by name of Additiones magnae. Unlike the 
“small additions” consisting of a paragraph or so, these 
are a series of complete questions intended by Scotus to 
supplement his previous courses on the first and second 
books of the Sentences. The first book of the Additiones was 



edited by Wadding and Vives as part of the Reporlata 

The different redactions of the reportationes of Paris 
lectures are now generally recognised to be due to a 
difference in the scribes who reported the lectures or to 
changes made later, perhaps even at the suggestion of 
Scotus himself. The most important of these reportationes 
is that authenticated by Scotus and known as the 
Reportatio magna or Reportatio examinata (unedited). One 
redaction of the Reportatio parisiensis was edited at Paris 
(1517-18) and differs considerably from the version found 
in Wadding and Vives. The latter is a mixture of various 
elements, including the Additiones magnae and even parts 
of the Opus oxoniense (especially in the third book). 

2. Disputations 

Scotus held several isolated disputations both as 
bachelor and as master. He functioned in the former 
role at the Vesperies of Philip of Bridlington, o.f.m. in Oxford 
as well as in the disputatio in aula on the occasion of Giles 
of Ligny’s promotion as master in Paris. The dispute 
with Peter Godin, o.p. on the principle of individuation 
as well as the Quaestio disputata de formalitate, referred to 
by Adam Wodam as Logica Scoti, seem to be the work of 
Scotus as master. More important than these isolated, 
and for the most part unedited, disputations are the 
Quaestiones quodlibetales and the Collationes parisienses et 
oxonienses. The former comprise twenty-one questions 
(though there is some doubt as to the authenticity of the 
twenty-first) disputed by Scotus as regent master in 
Paris, and represent one of the latest and most mature of 
Scotus’s works. The Collationes are much shorter ques- 
tions. Little and Pelster consider them as “private 
disputations of the students in the Franciscan house . . . 
in which the bachelor Duns Scotus, probably as master 
of students, took a leading part”. According to Balic 



they are forty-six in number, nineteen of which were 
held in Paris and the rest in Oxford. Only forty are 
found in Wadding-Vives (one being printed among the 
inauthentic Quaestiones miscellaneae de formalitatibus , q. i 
Vives, V-5, 338-53). Of the remaining six, five have 
been edited by Harris ( Duns Scotus, V.2., Oxford 1927) 
and Balic later made another edition of the first three 
Collationes found in Harris ( Bogoslovni Vestnik rx, 1939, 

Philosophical Works 

The Tractatus de primo principio is a short but important 
compendium of Scotus’s natural theology. It seems to be 
one of his latest works and draws heavily on the Ordinatio. 
It is available in two modern editions, that of M. Mueller, 
o.f.m. (Freiburg im Breisgau 1941) and E. Roche, o.f.m. 
(St Bona venture, N.Y., 1949). Also authentic are the 
Quaestiones subtilissimae in Metaphysicam Aristotelis, although 
the last two books (X and XII) found in the Wadding 
and Vives editions are spurious. Once believed to be an 
earlier work of Scotus, it seems to have been composed 
or at least revised about the time Scotus was working on 
the Ordinatio. Like the latter, the text of these questions 
as found in our editions is in a deplorable state. 

Somewhat less certain is the question of the authenti- 
city of the Quaestiones in libros Aristotelis De anima, which 
in addition to doctrinal discrepancies with the certainly 
authentic works, contains passages that are found literally 
in Gonsalvus of Spain. 

Of the logical writings found in the Wadding and 
Vives editions, the following are generally accepted as 
genuine works of Scotus : Quaestiones super Universalia 
Porphyrii, Qiiaestiones in librum Praedicamentorum, Quaestiones 
in I et II librum Perihermenias, Opus secundum sive octo quaes- 
tiones in duos libros Perihermenias, Quaestiones in libros Elen- 
chorum. There are still some difficulties connected with 



these works, however, so that perhaps the final word on 
their authenticity still remains to be said. 

Even more dubious are the Theoremata. Internal 
evidence militates very strongly against their authenticity, 
though external reasons favour it. Even if Duns Scotus 
is definitely established as their author, the problem of 
interpretation still remains, for this small tract seems to 
be simply notes or outlines of problems, rather than a 
finished composition. 

The following philosophical works found in the 
Wadding and Vives collections, however, are definitely 
spurious : Grammatica speculativa (Thomas of Erfurt), 

Quaestiones in librwm I et II priorum Analyticorum Aristotelis 
(unknown Scotist), Quaestiones in librum I et II posteriorum 
Analyticorum (John of Cornwall), Expositio et quaestiones in 
VIII libros Physicorum Aristotelis (Marsilius of Inghen), 
Meteorologicorum libri quatuor (author unknown), Expositio 
in XII libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis seu Metaphysica 
textualis (Antonius Andreas), Conclusiones utilissimae ex 
libris Metaphysicorum Aristotelis collectae (Gonsalvus of 
Spain), Quaestiones disputatae de rerum principio (Vitalis du 
Four), Quaestiones miscellaneae de formalitatibus — except 
the first question — (Nicholas of Lyra and William of 
Alnwick), and De cognitione Dei tradatus imperfedus. 

The editions most frequently used are these. Opera 
omnia, edited by Luke Wadding, o.f.m. (Lyons 1639) in 
twelve volumes. In addition to the text, this edition 
contains notes, summaries and commentaries by famous 
Scotists. The Vives edition (Paris 1891-5) in twenty- 
four volumes is practically a reprint of Wadding without 
the latter’s indices. The new critical edition of the 
Opera omnia, prepared by the Scotistic Commission in 
Rome and published by the Vatican City Press, was 
begun in 1950 and is still incomplete. Of the single works 
we have the two modern editions of the Tradatus de primo 
principio mentioned above. The edition of Roche is 
accompanied by an English translation. The first two 



books of the Opus oxoniense were edited by M. Fernandez 
Garcia, o.f.m. under the title Commentaria oxoniensia 
(Quaracchi, 1912-14) and the Quaestiones quodlibetales of 
the Wadding edition are available in a photo-offset reprint 
by the Franciscan Institute (St Bonaventure, N.Y., 1950). 


The best bibliography to date is that prepared for the 
Scotistic Commission by Odulfus Schafer, o.f.m., Biblio- 
graphia de vita , operibus et doctrina Iohannis Duns Scoti 
Doctoris Subtilis ac Mariani saeculorum XIX-XX, Romae : 
Orbis Catholicus, Herder, 1955. Also recommended is 
the bibliography of C. R. S. Harris, Duns Scotus, vol. i, 
Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1927, and that of Maurice 
Grajewski, o.f.m., “Scotistic Bibliography of the Last 
Decade (1929-39)”, Franciscan Studies, vols. i and 11 

Bettoni, E., o.f.m., Duns Scotus : The Basic Principles 
of his Philosophy, trans. and ed. B. Bonansea, o.f.m., 
Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of America, 

Campbell, B. J., o.f.m., The Problem of One or Plural 
Substantial Forms in Man as Found in the Works of St Thomas 
Aquinas and John Duns Scotus, Philadelphia : University 
of Pennsylvania, 1940. 

Copleston, F. C., s.j., A History of Philosophy, vol. 11 
(Medieval Philosophy from Augustine to Scotus), 
London : Burns, Oates and Washbourne, 1950. 

Day, S. J., o.f.m., Intuitive Cognition : A Key to the 
Significance of the Later Scholastics, St Bonaventure, N.Y. : 
Franciscan Institute, 1947. 

Gilson, £., The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, trans. 
A. H. C. Downes. London : Sheed and Ward, 1936. 


Grajewski, M. J., o.f.m., The Formal Distinction of Duns 
Scotus, Washington, D.C. : Catholic University of 

America, 1944. 

Micklem, N., Reason and Revelation : A Question from 
Duns Scotus , Edinburgh : Nelson, 1953 ; see also A. B. 
Wolter, ‘‘Duns Scotus and the Necessity of Revealed 
Knowledge. Prologue to the Ordinatio of John Duns 
Scotus”, Franciscan Studies , xi, n. 3-4 (Sept. -Dec. 1951,) 

Saint-Maurice, Beraud de, John Duns Scotus : A 

Teacher for our Times , trans. C. Duffy, o.f.m., St Bona- 
venture, N.Y. : Franciscan Institute, 1955. 

Sharp, D. E., Franciscan Philosophy at Oxford in the 
Thirteenth Century, Oxford : University Press, 1930. 

Shircel, C. L., o.f.m., The Univocity of the Concept of 
Being in the Philosophy of John Duns Scotus, Washington, 
D.C. : Catholic University of America, 1942. 

Vier, P. C., o.f.m., Evidence and Its Function According 
to John Duns Scotus, St Bonaventure, N.Y. : Franciscan 
Institute, 1951. 

Wolter, A. B., o.f.m., The Transcendental and Their 
Function in the Metaphysics of Duns Scotus, St Bonaventure, 
N.Y. : Franciscan Institute, 1946. 

Klibansky, R., Commentarium de Eckardi magisterio 
(Magistri Eckardi Opera Latina, vol. xiii, pp. xxxf., 
Lipsiae 1936) provides confirmation of Scotus’s presence 
in Paris during the scholastic year 1302-03 and shows 
that in all probability Scotus, as baccalareus Sententiarum, 
took part in the famous disputation between the 
Franciscan Master Gonsalvus and the Dominican 
Master Eckhart. 




1. Metaphysics, the science of the transcendental 

2. Concept and articulation of the transcendental 

3. Primacy of “being” among the other transcendentals 

4. On the deduction of the attributes of “being” 

5. Being as the subject and God as the goal of metaphysics 





Necesse est esse aliquam scientiam universalem, quae 
per se consideret ilia transcendentia, et hanc scientiam 
vocamus metaphysicam, quae dicitur a meta, quod est 
trans, et physis scientia, quasi transcendens scientia, 
quia est de transcendentibus. 


Sed tunc est dubium, qualia sunt ilia praedicata, quae 
dicuntur de Deo [formaliter], ut sapiens, bonus, etc. 
Respondeo : ens prius dividitur in infinitum et finitum 
quam in decern praedicamenta, quia alterum istorum, 
scilicet [ens] finitum, est commune ad decern genera. 
Ergo quaecumque conveniunt enti ut indifferens ad 
finitum et infinitum, vel ut est proprium enti infinito, 
conveniunt sibi non ut determinatur ad genus sed ut 
prius, et per consequens, ut est transcendens et est extra 
omne genus. Quaecumque sunt communia Deo et 
creaturae, sunt talia quae conveniunt enti ut est indif- 
ferens ad finitum et infinitum ; ut enim conveniunt Deo 
sunt infinita, ut creaturae sunt finita. Ergo [ilia] per 
prius conveniunt enti quam ens dividatur in decern 
genera, et per consequens quodcumque tale est trans- 

Sed tunc est aliud dubium, quomodo ponitur sa- 

* Quaestiones subtilissimae in Metaphysicam Aristotelis, prol., n. 5 
(Vives, vol. vn, 5 a ). 

t Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. vm, q. iii (Assisi 137, f. 50v a ; cf. Vives, 
vol. ix, 597 6 — 598*) . 





There must necessarily exist some universal science 
which considers the transcendentals as such. This 
science we call “metaphysics”, from “meta”, which 
means “beyond”, and “the science of nature ”. 1 It is, as 
it were, the transcending science, because it is concerned 
with the transcendentals. 


Now a doubt arises as to what kind of predicates are 
those which are predicated formally of God, for instance, 
“wise”, “good”, and the like. I answer that before 
“being” is divided into the ten categories, it is divided 
into infinite and finite. For the latter, namely finite 
being, is common to the ten genera. Whatever pertains 
to “being”, then, in so far as it remains indifferent to 
finite and infinite, or as proper to the Infinite Being, does 
not belong to it as determined to a genus, but prior to 
any such determination, and therefore as transcendental 
and outside any genus. Whatever [predicates] are 
common to God and creatures are of such kind, pertain- 
ing as they do to being in its indifference to what is 
infinite and finite. For in so far as they pertain to God 
they are infinite, whereas in so far as they belong to 
creatures they are finite. They belong to “being”, then, 
prior to the division into the ten genera. Anything of 
this kind, consequently, is transcendental. 

But then another doubt arises. How can wisdom be 



pientia transcendens, cum non sit communis omnibus 
entibus, [et transcendentia videntur communia omnibus] . 
Respondeo, sicut de ratione [generis] generalissimi non 
est habere sub se plures species, sed non habere aliud 
supraveniens genus sicut hoc praedicamentum Quando, 
quia non habet supraveniens genus, est generalissimum, 
licet paucas habeat species aut nullas, ita transcendens 
quodcumque nullum habet genus sub quo contineatur. 
Unde de ratione transcendentis est non habere praedica- 
tum supraveniens nisi ens. Sed quod ipsum sit commune 
ad multa inferiora, hoc accidit. Hoc patet ex alio : 
quia ens non tantum habet passiones simplices converti- 
biles, sicut unum, verum, et bonum, sed habet aliquas 
passiones ubi opposita distinguuntur contra se, sicut 
necesse esse vel possibile, actus vel potentia, et hujusmodi. 

Sicut autem passiones convertibiles sunt transcendentes 
quia consequuntur ens inquantum non determinatur ad 
aliquod genus, ita passiones disjunctae sunt transcen- 
dentes ; et utrumque membrum illius disjuncti est trans- 
cendens, quia neutrum determinat suum determinabile 
ad certum genus ; et tamen unum membrum illius 
disjuncti formaliter est speciale non conveniens nisi uni 
enti, sicut necesse esse in ista divisione necesse esse vel 
possibile esse, et infinitum in ista divisione finitum vel 
infinitum, et sic de aliis. 

Ita etiam potest sapientia esse transcendens et quod- 
cumque aliud quod est commune Deo et creaturae, licet 
aliquod tale dicatur de solo Deo, aliquod autem de Deo 
et aliqua creatura. Non oportet autem transcendens ut 
transcendens dici de quocumque ente, nisi sit con- 
vertibile cum primo transcendente, scilicet ente. 


considered a transcendental if it is not common to all 
beings, for transcendentals seem to be common to all? 
I answer that just as it is not of the nature of a supreme 
genus to have many species contained under it, but it is of 
its nature not to have any genus over and above it (the 
category of “when”, for instance, is a supreme genus 
since it has no genus over and above it, although it has 
few, if any, species contained under it), so also whatever 
is not contained under any genus is transcendental. 
Hence, not to have any predicate above it except “being” 
pertains to the very notion of a transcendental. That it 
be common to many inferior notions, however, is purely 
incidental. This is evident too from the fact that “being” 
possesses not only attributes which are coextensive with 
it, such as “one”, “true” and “good”, but also attributes 
which are opposed to one another such as “possible-or- 
necessary”, “act-or-potency”, and suchlike. 

But if the coextensive attributes are transcendental 
because they pertain to “being” as not determined to a 
definite genus, then the disjunctive attributes are trans- 
cendental too. And both members of the disjunction are 
transcendental since neither determines its determinable 
element to a definite genus. Nevertheless, one member 
of the disjunction is proper and pertains formally to 
one being alone, for instance, “necessary” in the dis- 
junction “necessary-or-possible”, or “infinite” in the 
disjunction “finite-or-infinite”,and so also with the others. 

And so “wisdom”, or anything else, for that matter, 
which is common to God and creatures, can be trans- 
cendental. A transcendental, however, may also be 
predicated of God alone, or again it may be predicated 
about God and some creature. It is not necessary, then, 
that a transcendental as transcendental be predicated 
of every being, unless it be coextensive with the first of 
the transcendentals, namely “being”. 




transcendenttum] * 

Dico quod ex istis quatuor rationibus sequitur, cum 
nihil possit esse communius ente, et ens non possit esse 
commune univocum dictum in quid de omnibus per se 
intelligibilibus, quia non de differentiis ultimis, nec de 
passionibus suis, sequitur quod nihil est primum objectum 
intellectus nostri propter communitatem ipsius in quid 
ad omne per se intelligibile. 

Et tamen hoc non obstante, dico quod primum objec- 
tum intellectus nostri est ens, quia in ipso concurrit 
duplex primitas, scilicet communitatis et virtualitatis. 
Nam omne per se intelligibile aut includit essentialiter 
rationem entis, vel continetur virtualiter, vel essentialiter 
in includente essentialiter rationem entis. Omnia enim 
genera et species et individua et omnes partes essentiales 
generum et ens increatum includunt ens quidditative. 
Omnes autem passiones entis includuntur in ente et in 
suis inferioribus virtualiter. 

Igitur ilia, quibus ens non est univocum dictum in 
quid, includuntur in illis quibus ens est sic univocum. 
Et ita patet quod ens habet primitatem communitatis ad 
prima intelligibilia, hoc est, ad conceptus quidditativos 
generum et specierum et individuorum et parti um 
essentialium omnium istorum et entis increati, et habet 
primitatem virtualitatis ad omnia intelligibilia inclusa 
in primis intelligibilibus, hoc est, ad conceptus qualita- 
tivos differentiarum et passionum propriarum. 

Quod autem supposui, communitatem entis dicti in 
quid ad omnes conceptus quidditativos praedictos, hoc 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. m, q. iii (Assisi 137, f. 280-291-* ; cf. 
Vives, vol. ix io8*-iii“). 




And I say that . . since nothing can be more 
co mm on than “being”, and that “being” cannot be 
predicated univocally and in quid 2 of all that is of itself 
intelligible (because it cannot be predicated in this way 
of the ultimate differences 3 or of its attributes ), 4 it 
follows that we have no object of the intellect that is 
primary by reason of a commonness in quid in regard to 
all that is of itself intelligible. 

And yet, notwithstanding, I say that “being” is the 
first object of the intellect, because in it a twofold primacy 
concurs, namely, a primacy of commonness and of 
virtuality . 3 For whatever is of itself intelligible either 
includes essentially the notion of “being” or is contained 
virtually or essentially in something else which does 
include “being” essentially. For all genera, species, 
individuals, and the essential parts of genera, and the 
Uncreated Being all include “being” quidditatively. All 
the ultimate differences are included essentially in some 
of these. All the attributes of “being” are virtually 
included in “being” and in those things which come 
under “being”. 

Hence, all to which “being” is not univocal in quid are 
included in those to which “being” is univocal in this 
way. And so it is clear that “being” has a primacy of 
commonness in regard to the primary intelligibles, that 
is, to the quidditative concepts of the genera, species, 
individuals, and all their essential parts, and to the 
Uncreated Being. It has a virtual primacy in regard to 
the intelligible elements included in the first intelligibles, 
that is, in regard to the qualifying concepts of the ultimate 
differences and proper attributes. 

My supposition that “being” is predicated commonly 
in quid of all the aforementioned quidditative concepts 



probatur de omnibus illis, duabus rationibus positis in 
prima quaestione hujus distinctionis ad probandum 
communitatem entis ad ens creatum et increatum, quod 
ut pateat, pertracto eas aliqualiter. 

Primam sic : de quocumque enim praedictorum con- 
ceptuum quidditativorum contingit intellectum certum 
esse ipsum esse ens, dubitando de differentiis contra- 
hentibus ens ad talem conceptum. Et ita conceptus 
entis, ut convenit illi conceptui, est alius a conceptibus 
illis inferioribus de quibus intellectus est dubius ; ita 
alius quod inclusus in utroque inferiori conceptu, nam 
differentiae illae contrahentes praesupponunt eumdem 
conceptum entis communem quern contrahunt. 

Secundam rationem pertracto sic, sicut argutum est 
quod Deus non est cognoscibilis a nobis naturaliter nisi 
ens sit univocum creato et increato, ita potest argui de 
substantia et accidente ; cum enim substantia non 
immutet immediate intellectum nostrum ad aliquam 
intellectionem sui, sed tantum accidens sensibile, sequitur 
quod nullum conceptum quidditativum poterimus habere 
de ea nisi aliquis tabs possit abstrahi a conceptu acci- 
dentis. Sed nullus tabs quidditativus, abstrahibibs a 
conceptu accidentis est nisi conceptus entis. 

Quoad autem est suppositum de substantia, quod non 
immutat intellectum nostrum immediate ad actum circa 
se, hoc probatur : quia quidquid praesens immutat 

intellectum illius absentia potest naturaliter cognosci ab 
intellectu, quando non immutatur, sicut apparet secundo 
De anima* quod visus est tenebrae perceptivus, quando 
scilicet lux non est praesens, et ideo tunc visus non 
immutatur. Igitur si intellectus naturaliter immutatur 
a substantia immediate ad actum circa ipsam, sequeretur 
quod quando substantia non esset praesens, posset 

ii, cap. x (420", 23). 


is established by the two arguments used in the initial 
question to prove that being is predicated commonly 
of created and uncreated being [Cf. pp. 20-3]. That 
what I have supposed may be evident, I now explain 
these reasons a little. 

I explain the first reason thus. Of each of the afore- 
mentioned concepts, the intellect can be certain that it is 
a being and still be in doubt about the differences which 
delimit “being” to the concept in question. And so the 
concept of being, in so far as it agrees with the concept 
in question, is other than the dubious concepts which 
come under it. But it is other in such a way that it is 
included in both of the concepts which come under it, 
for these limiting differences presuppose the same concept 
of being which they limit. 

The second reason I explain as follows : We argued 
that God cannot be known naturally unless being is 
univocal to the created and uncreated. We can argue 
in the same way of substance and accident, for substance 
does not immediately move our intellect to know the 
substance itself, but only the sensible accident does so. 
From this it follows that we can have no quidditative 
concept of substance except such as could be abstracted 
from the concept of an accident. But the only quiddita- 
tive concept of this kind that can be abstracted from 
that of an accident is the concept of being. 

Our assumption that substance does not immediately 
move our intellect to know the substance itself, we prove 
thus : If something moves the intellect when it is present, 
then whenever the intellect is not so moved, it will be 
able to know naturally that this object is absent. This is 
clear from the De anima, bk. ii,* according to which the 
sense of sight can perceive darkness when, presumably, 
light is not present, and the sense, in consequence, is not 
moved. Therefore, if substance immediately moved the 
intellect naturally to know the substance itself, it would 
follow that when a substance was absent, the intellect 

12 , 32 *) 3 



cognosci non esse praesens, et ita naturaliter posset cog- 
nosci in hostia altaris consecrata non esse substantiam 
panis, quod est manifeste falsum. Nullus igitur con- 
ceptus quidditativus habetur naturaliter de substantia 
immediate causatus a substantia, sed tantum causatus 
vel abstractus primo ab accidente, et illud non est nisi 
conceptus entis. 

Per idem concluditur etiam propositum de partibus 
essentialibus substantiae. Si enim materia non immutat 
intellectum ad actum circa ipsam, nec forma substantialis, 
quaero quis conceptus simplex in intellectu habebitur 
de materia vel forma ? Si dicas quod aliquis conceptus 
relativus, puta partis, vel conceptus per accidens, puta 
alicujus proprietatis materiae vel formae, quaero quis 
est conceptus quidditativus, cui iste per accidens vel 
relativus attribuitur ? Et si nullus quidditativus [habetur, 
nihil erit, cui attribuatur iste conceptus per accidens, 
nullus autem quidditativus] potest haberi nisi impressus 
vel abstractus ab illo quod movet intellectum, puta ab 
accidente, et ille erit conceptus entis. Et ita nihil 
cognoscetur de partibus essentialibus substantiae, nisi 
ens sit commune univocum eis et accidentibus. 

Istae rationes non includunt univocationem entis in 
quid ad differentias ultimas et passiones. 

De prima, ostenditur quia aut intellectus est certus de 
aliquo tali quod sit ens, dubitando utrum sit hoc vel 
illud, tamen non est certus quod sit ens quidditative sed 
quasi predicatione per accidens. 

Vel aliter, et melius : quilibet talis conceptus est 

simpliciter simplex, et ideo non potest secundum aliquid 
concipi et secundum aliquid ignorari, sicut patet per 
Philosophum nono Metaphysicae, in fine,* de conceptibus 

* ix, cap. ix (iosi^, 25). 



could know that it was not present. Hence, it could 
know naturally that the substance of bread does not 
exist in the Consecrated Victim of the Altar, which is 
clearly false . 6 Naturally, then, we have no quidditative 
concept of substance caused immediately by substance 
itself. Our only quidditative concept thereof is that 
caused by, or first abstracted from, an accident, and this 
is none other than the concept of being. 

By the same token, our conclusion holds for the 
essential parts of substance. For if neither matter nor 
form move the intellect to an act of knowledge about 
themselves, I ask “What simple concept shall we have of 
matter or form?” If you say that it is some relative 
concept, for instance, of some part, or that it is an 
incidental concept, for instance, of some property of 
matter or form, then I ask “What is the quidditative 
concept to which this incidental or relative concept is 
attributed?” And if there is no quidditative concept, 
there will be nothing to which this incidental concept 
may be attributed. But the only quidditative concept 
possible is caused by, or abstracted from, that which does 
move the intellect, viz. an accident. And this will be 
the concept of being. Consequently, nothing is known 
of the essential parts of substance unless “being” is 
univocal, common to them and to the accidents. 

These reasons do not imply that “being” is predicated 
in quid of the ultimate differences and attributes. 

The first does not, for the intellect [according to the 
argument] is certain that some such thing is a being 
while it doubts whether it is this being or that. The 
intellect, however, is certain that it [viz. an ultimate 
difference or attribute] is not being quidditatively, but 
it is as it were “being” byway of accidental predication. 

Or another and better way. Every such concept is 
irreducibly simple 7 and therefore one part of it cannot 
be conceived while another part remains unknown, as 
is evident from the statement of the Philosopher (in 



simpliciter simplicibus, quod non est circa eos deceptio, 
sicut est circa quidditatem complexorum ; quod non 
est intelligendum quasi intellectus simplex decipiatur 
formaliter circa intellectionem quidditatis, quia in 
intellectione simplici non est verum vel falsum, sed circa 
quidditatem compositam potest intellectus simplex 
virtualiter decipi. Si enim ista ratio est in se falsa, tunc 
includit virtualiter propositionem falsam ; quod autem 
est simpliciter simplex, non includit virtualiter proximo 
nec formaliter propositionem falsam, et ideo circa ipsam 
non est deceptio. Vel enim totaliter attingitur vel non 
attingitur, et tunc omnino ignoratur. De nullo igitur 
simpliciter simplici conceptu potest esse certitudo secun- 
dum aliquid ejus et dubitatio secundum aliud. 

Per hoc etiam patet ad secundam rationem supra 
positam, quia tale simpliciter simplex omnino est ignotum 
nisi secundum se totum concipiatur. 

Tertio etiam modo potest responderi ad primam 
rationem, quod ille conceptus de quo est certitudo, est 
alius ab illis de quibus est dubitatio, et si ille certus 
idem salvatur cum alterutro illorum dubiorum, vere est 
univocus, ut cum alterutro illorum accipitur. Sed non 
oportet quod insit utrique illorum in quid, sed ut sic, 
vel est univocus eis ut determinabilis ad determinantes, 
vel ut denominabilis ad denominantes. Unde breviter, 
ens est univocum in omnibus, sed conceptibus non 
simpliciter simplicibus est univocus in quid dictus de eis ; 
simpliciter simplicibus est univocus ut determinabilis 
vel ut denominabilis, non autem ut dictum de eis in 
quid, quia hoc includit contradictionem. 

Ex his apparet quomodo in ente concurrat duplex 


Metaphysics, bk. ix, near the end) that there is no decep- 
tion regarding irreducibly simple concepts as there is re- 
garding the quiddity of what is complex. This is not to 
be understood as though the simple intellect 8 is formally 
deceived regarding the knowledge of quiddities, for in 
simple intellection there is neither truth nor falsity. In 
regard to a quiddity that is composed, however, the 
simple intellect can be virtually deceived. For if such 
a notion is false in itself, then it includes virtually a false 
proposition. But what is irreducibly simple includes a 
false proposition neither virtually nor formally, and 
therefore there is no deception in its regard. Either it is 
grasped totally or not at all, in which case it remains 
completely unknown. Of no irreducibly simple concept, 
therefore, can we be certain of one part and doubtful 
about another. 

From this, it is clear also as far as the second reason 
stated above is concerned, that what is so irreducibly 
simple remains completely unknown unless it is grasped 
fully as it is in itself. 

A third reply is possible regarding the first reason. 
This concept of which we are certain is other than those 
of which we are in doubt. Now if this same element of 
which we are certain is preserved with both of the doubt- 
ful concepts, it is truly univocal in the sense that it is 
grasped with both of them. It is not necessary, however, 
that it be contained in both of them in quid, but it may 
either be contained in quid or be univocal to them as 
determinable is univocal to determinant, or as what can 
be denominated to what denominates. To put it briefly, 
then, “being” is univocal for all. But for concepts that 
are not irreducibly simple, it is predicated of them uni- 
vocally in quid ; for concepts irreducibly simple, it is 
uni vocal as something determinable or denominable, 
but it is not univocal in the sense that it is predicated 
of them in quid, for that would be a contradiction. 

And so it is clear how in “being” there concurs a two- 



primitas, videlicet primitas communicabilitatis in quid 
ad omnes conceptus non simpliciter simplices, et primitas 
virtualitatis in se vel in suis inferioribus ad omnes con- 
ceptus simpliciter simplices. 


Quantum ad primum dico quod istud disjunctum 
necessarium vel possibile est passio entis circumloquens 
passionem convertibilem, sicut sunt talia multa illimitata 
entibus. Passiones autem entis convertibiles, ut com- 
munius, immediate dicuntur de ente, quia ens habet 
conceptum simpliciter simplicem, et ideo non potest esse 
medium inter ipsum et suam passionem, quia neutrius 
est definitio quae possit esse medium. Si etiam est 
aliqua passio entis non prima, difficile est videre per 
quam priorem, ut per medium, possit concludi de ente, 
quia nec facile est videre ordinem passionum entis. Nec 
si ille ordo cognosceretur, viderentur propositiones 
sumptae ab eis pro praemissis esse multum evidentiores 
conclusionibus. In passionibus autem disjunctis, licet 
illud totum disjunctum non possit demonstrari de ente, 
tamen communiter supposito illo extremo quod est minus 
nobile de aliquo ente, potest concludi illud extremum 
quod est nobilius de aliquo ente. Sicut sequitur : si 
aliquod ens est finitum, ergo aliquod ens est infinitum ; 
et si aliquod est contingens, ergo aliquod ens est neces- 
sarium, quia in talibus non posset enti particulariter 
inesse imperfectius extremum nisi alicui enti inesset 
perfectius extremum a quo dependeret. 

Sed nec isto modo videtur posse ostendi extremum 

* Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. xxxix, q. i (Assisi 137, f. gir^-giv" ; 
cf. Viv£s, vol. x, 625°-626“). 



fold primacy, namely, a primacy of commonness in quid 
in regard to all concepts that are not irreducibly simple 
and a primacy of virtuality in itself or in its inferiors 
regarding all concepts which are irreducibly simple. 


I say that this disjunction “necessary-or-possible”, like 
the countless other such found among beings, is an attri- 
bute of “being” that is equivalent to a coextensive 
attribute. But the coextensive attributes, as something 
more common, are affirmed immediately of “being”, 
because “being” is an irreducibly simple concept and 
consequently no middle term can exist between “being” 
and its attribute, for neither has a definition that might 
serve as a middle term. Also, if there is some attribute 
of “being” that is not immediate, it is difficult to see what 
prior attribute could be used as a middle term to link 
it with “being”, for it is not easy to discern any order 
among the attributes of “being”. And even if we knew 
of such an order among them, any propositions about 
them we might use as premises seem scarcely more 
evident than the conclusions. In the disjunctive attri- 
butes, however, while the entire disjunction cannot be 
demonstrated from “being”, nevertheless as a universal 
rule by positing the less perfect extreme of some being 
we can conclude that the more perfect extreme is realised 
in some other being. Thus it follows that if some being 
is finite, then some being is infinite. And if some being 
is contingent, then some being is necessary. For in such 
cases it is not possible for the more imperfect extreme of 
the disjunction to be existentially predicated of “being”, 
particularly taken, unless the more perfect extreme be 
existentially verified of some other being upon which it 

But we see that the less perfect member of such a 



imperfectius talis disjunctionis ; non enim si perfectius 
est in aliquo ente, ex hoc necesse est imperfectius esse in 
alio ente ; et hoc nisi ilia extrema disjuncta essent corre- 
lativa, sicut causa et causatum. Ideo igitur non potest 
ostendi de ente per aliquod prius medium hoc dis- 
junctum, necessarium vel contingens. Nec etiam ista 
pars disjuncti quae est contingens posset ostendi de 
aliquo, supposito necessario de aliquo, et ideo videtur 
ista : Aliquod ens est contingens, esse vera prima et non 
demonstrabilis propter quid. Unde Philosophus * arguens 
contra necessitatem futurorum, non deducit ad aliquid 
impossibilius hypothesi, sed ad aliquod impossibile nobis 
manifestius, scilicet quod non oportet consiliari. Et ideo 
negantes talia manifesta indigent poena vel scientia vel 
sensu, quia secundum Avicennam primo Metaphysicae j : 
Negantes primum principium sunt vapulandi vel expo- 
nendi igni, quousque concedant quod non est idem 
comburi et non comburi, vapulari et non vapulari. Ita 
etiam isti, qui negant aliquod ens contingens, exponendi 
sunt tormentis, quousque concedant quod possibile est 
eos non torqueri. 


Hie sunt tria videnda : Primo, si primus habitus 

naturaliter acquisitus et supremus perficiens intellectum 
viatoris, cujusmodi est habitus metaphysicae, habeat 
Deum pro primo objecto ?... 

De primo est controversia inter Avicennam et 

* De interpretations, cap. ix (18*, 26-35). 

f Aristotle, Topica, 1, cap. xi (105*% 4-5). 

t Reportata parisiensia, prol. q. iii, art. i (Vives, vol. xxii, 


disjunction cannot be established in this fashion, for if 
the more perfect exists in some being, there is no necessity 
on this score that the less perfect should exist in some 
other being, unless, of course, the two extremes of the 
disjunction should happen to be correlatives, such as 
“cause” and “caused”. Consequently, this disjunction 
“necessary-or-contingent”, cannot be established of 
“being” through some prior medium. Neither could the 
contingent part of the disjunction be established of any- 
thing on the supposition that something necessary exists. 
The proposition : “Some being is contingent”, therefore, 
seems to be a primary truth and is not demonstrable by 
an a priori demonstration, which gives the reason for the 
fact . 9 That is why the Philosopher, in arguing against 
the theory that future events are necessary, makes no 
attempt to deduce from it something even more impossible 
than the hypothesis, but he deduces from it an impossi- 
bility that is more apparent to us, namely, that there 
would be no need to deliberate [about the future]. And 
therefore, those who deny such manifest things need 
punishment or knowledge or sense, for as Avicenna puts 
it ( Metaphysics i) f : “Those who deny a first principle 
should be beaten or exposed to fire until they concede 
that to burn and not to bum, or to be beaten and not 
to be beaten, are not identical”. And so too, those who 
deny that some being is contingent should be exposed to 
torments until they concede that it is possible for them 
not to be tormented. 


We must first see whether metaphysics, the first and 
highest of the naturally acquired habits perfecting man’s 
intellect in the present life, has God as its first object. 

On this point there is a controversy between Avicenna 


Averroem. Ponit enim Avicenna quod Deus non est sub- 
jectum in metaphysica, quia nulla scientia probat suum 
subjectum ; metaphysicus autem probat Deum esse ; 
igitur, etc. Averroes reprehendit Avicennam in ultimo 
Commento primi Physicorum, quia sumpta eadem majori 
contra Avicennam cupit probare quod Deus et sub- 
stantiae separatae sunt subjectum in metaphysica, et 
quod Deum esse non probatur in metaphysica, quia 
nullum genus substantiarum separatarum potest probari 
esse nisi per motum, quod pertinet ad physicam. 

Sed videtur mihi Avicennam melius dixisse quam 
Averroem ; unde arguo sic contra eum : haec propositio, 
Nulla scientia probat suum subjectum esse, quae com- 
munis est utrique, vera est propter primitatem subjecti 
ad scientiam, quia si posterius esset, probaret ipsum esse 
in ilia scientia, in qua habet rationem posterioris, et non 
tantum rationem objecti adaequati. Sed subjectum 
magis habet rationem primitatis respectu posterioris 
scientiae quam respectu prioris ; ergo si prima scientia 
non potest probare suum subjectum esse, multo minus 
nec scientia posterior potest. 

Vel sub alia forma arguitur sic : Si physicus potest 
probare Deum esse, ergo Deum esse est conclusio in 
physica. Sed si metaphysica non potest sic probare 
Deum esse, ergo Deum esse praesupponitur in meta- 
physica tamquam principium. Ergo conclusio in physica 
est principium in metaphysica ; ergo physica est prior 

Item, ex omni proprietate manifesta in effectu potest 
concludi causam esse, si non inest nisi ration e talis 
causae ; sed non solum hujusmodi proprietates effectus 
considerantur in physica, quae solum conveniunt Deo, 



and Averroes. Avicenna claims that God is not the 
subject of metaphysics, because no science proves [the 
existence of] its own subject. The metaphysician, how- 
ever, proves that God exists. Averroes reproves Avi- 
cenna in his final comment on the Physics, bk. i, because 
he wishes, by using the same major premise against Avi- 
cenna, to prove that God and the pure spirits are the 
subject of metaphysics, and that God’s existence is not 
proved in metaphysics, since it is only by means of motion, 
which pertains to the science of natural philosophy, that 
any kind of pure spirit can be proved to exist. 

It seems to me, however, that of the two, Avicenna has 
spoken better. Wherefore I argue against Averroes as 
follows. The proposition they both hold, viz. “No science 
proves the existence of its subject” is true, because of the 
priority the subject holds in regard to the science. For if 
the subject were posterior to the science, then its existence 
would have to be established in some lower science, 
where it would be conceived under some inferior aspect 
which is inadequate for its role as the object [of the 
higher science]. Now a subject enjoys a greater priority 
over the lower than over the higher science. If the 
highest science, therefore, cannot prove that its subject 
exists, it is even less possible for a lower science to do so. 

Or to put the argument in another way, if the philo- 
sopher of nature can prove that God exists, then God’s 
existence is a conclusion of natural philosophy. Now if 
metaphysics cannot prove the existence of God in this 
way, then God’s existence is presupposed as a principle 
in metaphysics. Consequently, a conclusion of natural 
philosophy is a principle of metaphysics, and therefore 
the philosophy of nature is prior to metaphysics. 

Again, if a certain property can exist only in virtue of 
such and such a cause, from every such property that 
appears in the effect, we can infer the existence of the 
cause. Now it is not just such properties of the effect as 
are treated in the philosophy of nature that are possible 


1 1 

sed etiam in metaphysica, quia non solum motum prae- 
supponit movens, sed ens posterius praesupponit prius ; 
igitur ex prioritate in entibus potest concludi primum 
ens esse, et hoc perfectius quam ex motu concluditur in 
physica primum movens esse. Unde ex actu et potentia, 
finitate et infinitate, multitudine et unitate, et ex multis 
talibus, quae sunt proprietates et passiones metaphysicae 
potest concludi in metaphysica Deum esse sive primum 
ens esse. 

Ideo dico quantum ad istum articulum, quod Deus 
non est subjectum in metaphysica, quia sicut probatum 
est supra quaestione prima,* de Deo tamquam ut primo 
subjecto tantum est una scientia, quae non est meta- 
physica. Et hoc probatur sic : De omni subjecto etiam 
scientiae subalternatae statim ex sensibus cognoscitur 
quod est sic quod sibi non repugnat esse, ut patet de 
subjecto perspectivae ; statim enim ex sensibus appre- 
henditur lineam visibilem esse ; sicut enim principia 
statim apprehenduntur apprehensis terminis ex sensibus, 
ita tamen quod subjectum non sit posterius suo principio, 
nec ignotius, oportet subjectum in scientia apprehendi 
statim ex sensibus ; sed nulla ratio propria Dei con- 
ceptibilis a nobis, statim apprehenditur ab intellectu 
viatoris ; igitur nulla scientia naturaliter acquisita potest 
esse de Deo sub aliqua ratione propria. Probatio minoris : 
Prima ratio Dei quam concipimus de ipso est quod sit 
primum ens ; sed haec ratio non apprehenditur a 
nobis ex sensibus, sed prius oportet a nobis concipi com- 
possibilitatem unionis istorum duorum terminorum ; 
unde antequam sciamus hanc compossibilitatem, oportet 
quod demonstretur aliquod ens esse primum ; igitur, etc. 

Unde concedo cum Avicenna, quod Deus non sit sub- 
jectum in metaphysica. Nec obviat dictum Philosophi 

* q. i, art. iv. 


I I 

only on condition that God exists, for the same is true 
of the properties treated of in metaphysics. Not only 
does motion presuppose a mover, but a being that is pos- 
terior presupposes one that is prior. Consequently, from 
the priority that exists among beings the existence of the 
First Being can be inferred, and this can be done in a more 
perfect way than the existence of a Prime Mover can be 
established in natural philosophy. We can infer, then, 
in metaphysics from act and potency, finiteness and 
infinity, multitude and unity, and many other such meta- 
physical properties, that God or the First Being exists. 

So far as this article is concerned, then, I say that God 
is not the subject of metaphysics, because, as has been 
proved above in the first question, there is but one science 
that has God as its first subject, and this is not meta- 
physics . 10 And this is proved in the following manner. 
Of every subject, also of a subordinate science, it is 
known through the senses that it is of such a nature that 
to exist is not repugnant to it, as is evident of the subject 
of optics, for the existence of a visible line is grasped 
immediately from the senses. Just as principles are 
grasped immediately once the terms are apprehended 
through the medium of the senses, so likewise if a subject 
is not to be posterior to, or less known than, its principle , 11 
it must needs be grasped through the senses. But no 
proper notion that we can form of God is apprehended 
immediately by man’s intellect in this life. Therefore, 
we can have no naturally acquired science about God 
under some notion proper to Himself. Proof of the 
minor : The first [proper] concept we have of God is 
that He is the First Being. But this notion is not grasped 
through the senses, but we must first ascertain that the 
union of these two terms is compatible. Before we can 
know this compatibility, however, it is necessary that we 
demonstrate that some being is first. Therefore, etc. 

Hence, I concede with Avicenna that God is not the 
subject of metaphysics. The Philosopher’s statement 



primo Metaphysicae* dicentis quod Metaphysica est circa 
causas altissimas, quia loquitur sicut locutus est primo 
Priorum ,f cum dicit : Primum oportet dicere circa quid 
et de quo ; quoniam circa demonstrationem, et de 
disciplina demonstrativa, id est, de universali scientia 
demonstrandi sive syllogizandi. Unde circa proprie 
notat circumstantiam causae finalis, sicut et causae 
materialis ; unde metaphysica est circa altissimas causas 
finaliter, ad quarum cognitionem terminatur scientia 

* i, cap. ii, passim. f Analytica priora, t, cap. i (24®, 10 ff.). 



{Metaphysics, bk. i) * that metaphysics is concerned with 
the highest causes, presents no difficulty. For he speaks 
here as he did in the Prior Analytics, bk. i, j where he says : 
“First it is necessary to determine with what [Prior 
Analytics] is concerned and what it has to do. It is 
concerned with demonstration and has to do with the 
demonstrative branch of learning, that is with the 
general science of demonstrating or syllogising”. Hence, 
“concerned with” denotes properly the circumstance of 
the final cause just as much as it does that of the material 
cause. Wherefore, metaphysics is concerned with the 
highest causes as its end. In knowing them, meta- 
physical science attains its goal. 



Summary of the Argument 

Question : Is the intellect of man in this life able to know 

God naturally ? 

Pro et Contra 

Body of the Question 

Preliminary observations 
The opinion of Henry of Ghent 
Scotus’s own opinion 

First statement : It is possible to have a quidditative 
concept of God 

Second statement : God is conceived not only analogously, 
but also univocally 

Third statement : God’s essence is not known intuitively 
by man in this life 

Fourth statement : Man can have many proper concepts 
of God 

Fifth statement : We know God through the intelligible 
species of creatures 

Reply to the Arguments at the beginning 
Reply to Henry’s arguments 





Circa tertiam distinctionem quaero primo de cognos- 
cibilitate Dei. Et quaero primo : Utrum Deus sit natura- 
liter cognoscibilis ab intellect u viatoris. 

[Pro et Contra] 

Arguo quod non : 

Philosophus hi De anima j dicit : Phantasmata se 

habent ad intellectum sicut sensibilia ad sensum. Sed 
sensus non sentit nisi sensibile, ergo intellectus nihil 
intelligit nisi cujus phantasma potest per sensus appre- 
hendere. Deus autem non habet phantasma nec est 
aliquid phantasma nec est aliquid phantasibile ; ergo, 

Item n Metaphysicae J : sicut oculus noctuae ad lucem 
solis, sic et intellectus noster ad ea quae sunt mani- 
festissima naturae ; sed ibi est impossibilitas ; ergo et 

Item i Physicorum ** : Infinitum inquantum infinitum 
est ignotum. Etn Metaphysicae || : Infinita non contingit 
cognoscere ; ergo nec infinitum, quia eadem videtur 
esse improportio intellectus finiti ad infinitum et ad 
infinita, quia aequalis excessus vel non minor. 

Item Gregorius Super Ezechielem J j : Quantumcumque 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. in, q, i (Assisi 137, f. 25r“-27r 6 ; cf. Vives, 
vol. ix, 8“-38 6 ). 

t in, cap vii (431“, 14). % ii, cap. i (9936, 9). 

** 1, cap. iv (187 6 , 8). ft cap- 'i (994 4 , 22). 

Sermons on Ezechiel, i, hom. viii, n. 30 (Migne, P.L., lxxvi, 868). 

man’s natural knowledge of god 


[II. man’s natural knowledge of god] 

Concerning the third distinction I ask first whether 
it is possible to know God. And I ask first : whether the 
intellect of man in this life is able to know God naturally. 

[Pro et Contra] 

I argue that it cannot 1 : 

[Arg. 1]. The Philosopher in De anima, bk. in, f says : 
“Sense images are related to the intellect in the same way 
as sense objects are related to the senses”. But the senses 
perceive only what is sensible. Therefore the intellect 
is unable to grasp anything whose sense image cannot be 
known by the senses. Of God there is no sense image. 
Neither is He such that He could be perceived by such 
a sense faculty. Therefore, etc. 

[Arg. 11]. Again, according to Metaphysics, bk. n % : 
“As the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is our 
intellect to the things which are by nature most evident” 
But if it is impossible to know such things, it is impossible 
to know God. 

[Arg. hi]. Also, according to Physics, bk. i ** : “The 
infinite as infinite is unknowable”. And according to 
the Metaphysics, bk, 11 f f : “It is not possible to know an 
infinite [number] of things”. Therefore, neither can 
the Infinite Being be known, since an infinite number 
and an Infinite Being would seem to be equally dis- 
proportionate to our intellect ; for an Infinite Being 
exceeds the powers of our intellect in the same measure 
as, or certainly to no less a degree than, does the infinite 
in number. 

[Arg. iv]. Gregory, also, in his commentary on 
Ezechielsays %% : “No matter howfar our mind may have 



mens nostra in contemplatione profecerit Dei, non ad 
illud quod ipse est, sed ad illud quod sub ipso est attingit. 

Contra : 

v Metaphysicae * : Metaphysica est theologia de Deo 
et circa divina principaliter, ergo etc. Et in actu ejus,f 
scilicet in consideratione actuali substantiarum separa- 
tarum ponit felicitatem humanam. 

[Corpus Quaestionis] 

[, Notiones Praeviae\ 

In prima quaestione non est distinguendum quod Deus 
possit cognosci negative vel affirmative, quia negatio non 
cognoscitur nisi pre affirmationem : n Perihermenias, in 
fine,J et iv Metaphysicae .** Patet etiam quod nullas 
negationes cognoscimus de Deo nisi per affirmationes per 
quas removemus alia incompossibilia ab illis affirma- 

Negationes etiam non summe amamus. 

Similiter etiam aut negatio concipitur praecise aut ut 
dicta de aliquo. Si praecise concipitur negatio, ut non 
lapis, hoc aeque convenit nihilo sicut Deo, quia pura 
negatio dicitur de ente et de non ente. Igitur in hoc 
non magis intelligitur Deus quam nihil vel chimera. Si 
intelligitur ut negatio dicta de aliquo, tunc quaero ilium 
conceptum subtractum de quo intelligitur ista negatio 
esse vera. Aut erit conceptus affirmativus aut negativus. 
Si est affirmativus, habetur propositum. Si negativus, 
quaero ut prius. Aut negatio concipitur praecise aut ut 

* v, cap. vii (1064®, 36). 

t Ethica Nicomachea, x, cap. viii. 

j De interpretations, cap. xiii (22®, 33) ; cf. also cap. xiv in fine. 

** iv, cap. ii (1004®, 10-16). 

man’s natural knowledge of god 15 

progressed in the contemplation of God, it does not attain 
to what He is, but to what is beneath Him”. 

To the contrary : 

According to Metaphysics, bk. v * : “Metaphysics is a 
theology of God and is primarily concerned with the 
divine”. And [Aristotle] places man’s happiness in the 
actual possession of such knowledge, that is to say, in 
the actual speculation about the pure spirits. 

[Body of the Question] 

[ Preliminary Observations ] 

In this first question there is no need to make the 
distinction that we cannot know what God is : we can 
only know what He is not . 2 For every denial is intelligible 
only in terms of some affirmation. J * * It is also clear that 
we can know negations of God only by means of affirma- 
tions ; for if we deny anything of God, it is because we 
wish to do away with something inconsistent with what 
we have already affirmed. 

Neither are negations the object of our greatest love. 

Furthermore, if something is negated, either the nega- 
tion is considered simply in itself or as predicated of 
something. If a negation, such as “not-stone”, is con- 
sidered simply in itself, it is as characteristic of nothing 
as it is of God, for a pure negation is predicated of both 
what is and what is not a being. Consequently, what we 
know through such a negation is no more God than it is 
a chimera or nothing at all. If the negation is understood 
as modifying something, then I inquire after the under- 
lying notion of which the negation is understood to be 
true. It will be either an affirmative or a negative notion. 
If it is affirmative, we have what we seek. If it is nega- 
tive, I inquire as I did before. Either the negation is 
conceived simply in itself or as predicated of something. 


dicta de aliquo. Si primo modo, hoc aeque convenit 
nihilo sicut Deo. Si ut dicta de aliquo, sicut prius ; et 
quantumcumque procederetur in negationibus, vel non 
intelligeretur Deus magis quam nihil vel stabitur in 
aliquo affirmativo conceptu qui est primus. 

Nec secundo est distinguendum de cognitione quia 
[read quid] est et si est, quia in proposito quaero con- 
ceptum simplicem de quo cognoscatur esse per actum 
intellectus componentis et dividentis. Numquam enim 
cognosco de aliquo si est, nisi habeam aliquem con- 
ceptum illius extremi de quo cognosco esse ; et de illo 
conceptu quaeritur hie. 

Nec tertio oportet distinguere si est, ut est quaestio 
de veritate propositionis vel ut est quaestio de esse Dei, 
quia si potest esse, quaero de veritate propositionis in 
qua est esse tamquam praedicatum de subjecto ; ad 
concipiendum veritatem illius quaestionis vel proposi- 
tionis, oportet praeconcipere terminos illius quaestionis, 
et de conceptu simplici illius subjecti si est possibilis est 
nunc quaestio. 

Nec quarto valet distinguere de conceptu naturali et 
supernaturali, quia quaeritur de naturali. 

Nec quinto valet distinguere de naturaliter loquendo 
de natura absolute vel de natura pro statu isto, quia 
quaeritur praecise de cognitione pro statu isto. 

Nec sexto valet distinguere de cognitione Dei in 
creatura vel in se, quia si cognitio habeatur per creaturam 
ita quod cognitio discursiva incipiat a creatura, quaero 
in quo termino sistitur ista cognitio. Si in Deo in se, 
habeo propositum, quia ilium conceptum Dei in se 
quaero. Si non sistitur in Deo in se, sed in creatura, 

man’s natural knowledge of god i 6 

If the first be true, then the negation applies to nothing 
as well as to God. If it is conceived as predicated of 
something, then I argue as before. And no matter how 
far we proceed with negations, either what we know is 
no more God than nothing is, or we will arrive at some 
affirmative concept which is the first concept of all. 

In the second place, there is no point in distinguishing 
between a knowledge of His essence and a knowledge of 
His existence , 3 for I intend to seek a simple concept of 
which existence may be affirmed or denied by a judg- 
ment of the intellect. For I never know anything to exist 
unless I first have some concept of that of which existence 
is affirmed. And this is what we seek here. 

Thirdly, in regard to God’s existence there is no need 
to distinguish between the question of the truth of the 
proposition and the question of His existence . 4 For 
before there can be any question of the truth of a pro- 
position wherein existence is predicated of a subject, it is 
necessary first of all to conceive the terms of this pro- 
position. Now the question is this : “Is it possible to have 
a concept of the subject [of this proposition : ‘God 

exists’] by natural means?” 

Fourthly, the distinction between a natural and super- 
natural concept is out of place, because we are interested 
here only in the former . 5 

Fifthly, in regard to the natural, there is no necessity 
for a distinction between “nature, absolutely speaking” 
and “nature, in our present state”, for we are interested 
only in the latter . 6 

Sixthly, the distinction between knowing God in 
Himself and knowing Him in a creature is not to the 
point . 7 For if our knowledge comes through a creature 
in the sense that the reasoning process begins with what 
can be known from a creature, then I ask “What do we 
know at the conclusion of this process?” If it is God 
Himself, then I have what I seek, for I am looking for 
a concept of God Himself. If it is not God, but a creature, 



tunc idem erit terminus et principium discursus, et ita 
nulla notitia habebitur de Deo ; saltern non est intellectus 
in ultimo discursus termino quam diu sistit in aliquo 
objecto quod est principium discurrendi... 

Est ergo mens quaestionis ista : Utrum aliquem 

conceptum simplicem possit intellectus viatoris habere 
in quo conceptu simplici concipiatur Deus. 

[Opinio Henrici\ 

Ad hoc dicit quidam doctor sic loquendo : De cognitione 
actus distingui potest ex parte objecti et potest cognosci 
per se vel per accidens, in particulari vel in universali. 

Realiter per accidens non cognoscitur Deus, quia quid- 
quid de ipso cognoscitur est ipse, tamen cognoscendo 
aliquod attributum ejus cognoscimus quasi per accidens 
quid est. Unde de attributis dicit Damascenus libro 
primo, capitulo 4 * : Non naturam dicunt Dei, sed quae 
circa naturam. 

In universali etiam, puta in generali attributo, cog- 
noscitur ; non quidem in universali secundum praedica- 
tionem quod dicatur de ipso in quo nullum est velle \sic ! 
universale] , quia quidditas ilia est de se singularis, sed in 
universali quod tantum analogice commune est sibi et 
creaturae, tamen quasi unum a nobis concipitur propter 
proximitatem conceptuum, licet sint diversi conceptus. 

Migne, P.G., xciv, 800. 

man’s natural knowledge of god 17 

then the beginning and conclusion of the reasoning pro- 
cess are identical, and therefore I have no knowledge of 
God at all — or at least God is not grasped at the end of 
the reasoning process so long as the mind does not get 
beyond the object that served as the initial point of the 

The meaning of the question, then, is this : “Is it 
possible by natural means for man’s intellect in the 
present life to have a simple concept in which concept 
God is grasped?” 

[ The Opinion of Henry of Ghent ] 

A certain teacher 8 answers the question in this way : 
An act of knowledge can be distinguished in terms of its 
object, and on this score we can distinguish : (a) a 

knowledge of a thing through the thing itself ; ( b ) a 
knowledge of the thing through something incidental to 
it ; (c) a knowledge of the thing in particular ; and (d) a 
knowledge of the thing in general. 

In reality there is no knowledge of God through some- 
thing incidental to Him, for whatever is known of God is 
God Himself. Nevertheless, we do know what God is 
in a quasi-incidental manner when we know some one of 
His attributes. Hence, Damascene says * that the attri- 
butes “do not bespeak the nature of God, but something 
about the nature”. 

God is also known in a general way, that is, through some 
universal attribute. Not indeed that any attribute, 
universal by way of predication, is affirmed of Him in 
whom nothing is universal, for His essence is singular of 
its very nature. He is known, however, in a “universal” 
that is only analogically common to Himself and to a 
creature. This universal is conceived by us as though it 
were one notion, because of the close resemblance of the 
concepts it contains, although the latter in reality are 


In particular! non cognoscitur ex creaturis, quia 
creatura est peregrina similitudo ejus, sic quia tantum 
conformis ei quo ad alia attributa quae non sunt ilia 
natura in particulari. Ergo cum nihil ducat in cognitione 
alterius nisi sub ratione similis, sequitur, etc. 

Item in universali tripliciter cognoscitur : generalis- 
sime, generalius, generaliter. 

Generalissime tres habet gradus : cognoscendo enim 
quodcumque ens, ut hoc ens est, indistinctissime concipi- 
tur [Deus quia concipitur] ens quasi pars conceptus, et 
est primus gradus ; et amovendo hoc et concipiendo ens 
est secundus gradus. Jam enim ut conceptum, non ut 
pars, concipitur commune analogum Deo et creaturae. 
Quod si distinguatur conceptus entis qui Deo convenit, 
puta concipiendo ens indeterminatum negative, id est 
non determinabile, a conceptu entis qui convenit 
analogice, quod est ens indeterminatum privative, jam 
est tertius gradus. Primo modo indeterminatum abstra- 
hitur, ut forma ab omni materia ut in se subsistens et 
[im] participabilis . Secundo modo indeterminatum est 
velle [sic /] vel universale abstractum a particularibus 
quod est actu participatum in illis. 

Post istos tres gradus generalissime concipiendi con- 
cipitur Deus generalius concipiendo quodcumque attri- 
butum non simpliciter ut prius, sed cum praeeminentia 

Generaliter autem concipitur concipiendo quodcumque 

man’s natural knowledge of GOD 1 8 

God is not known in particular from creatures, because 
a creature bears only an external likeness to Him, since 
it resembles Him only in those attributes which do not 
constitute Him as this particular nature. Now since one 
thing can be known through another only by reason of 
the similarity existing between the two, it follows that 
God is not known in particular through creatures. 

Furthermore, there are three ways in which we may 
have a general knowledge of God : (a) in a most general 
way, ( b ) in a less general way, and (c) in the least general 

(a) The most general knowledge we have of God 
comprises three stages. To know any being as “this 
being” is already to conceive God in a very indistinct 
way ; for “being” is included, as it were, as part of the 
concept. This is the first step. The second step consists 
in removing the “this” and conceiving simply “being”. 
For “being”, in so far as it is a concept and not simply a 
part of a concept, is already conceived as analogically 
common to God and creature. We are in the third stage, 
if the concept of “being” which pertains to God is dis- 
tinguished from the concept of “being” which pertains 
analogically to creatures, if, for instance, God is con- 
ceived as a being that is negatively undetermined, that 
is, incapable of being determined, while a creature is 
conceived as a being that is privatively undetermined . 9 
In the first instance, “undetermined” is conceived 
abstractly as something self-subsistent and incapable of 
being participated in, like a form that lacks all matter. In 
the second, “undetermined” is a universal abstracted 
from particulars and not actually shared by them . 10 

( b ) In addition to these three stages of most general 
knowledge, God is grasped in a less general and more 
specific way, when any given attribute is conceived not 
in an unqualified manner as before, but as existing in the 
highest degree of perfection possible to such an attribute. 

(c) God is known in the least general manner, however, 



attributum esse idem cum suo primo attributo, scilicet 
esse, propter simplicitatem. 

Nec per speciem propriam cognoscitur, quia nihil est 
eo simplicius, sed ad modum aestimativae per speciem 
aliquam alienam ex creaturis. Et hoc omnibus tribus 
modis praedictis... 

[Opinio Scoti] 

Respondeo aliter ad primam quaestionem et in quibus- 
dam, scilicet in quinque, contradicam positioni prae- 
dictae. Rationes meae positionis ostendent oppositum 
hujus positionis... 

[Prima Senlentia ]. Dico ergo primo quod non tantum 
haberi potest conceptus naturaliter in quo quasi per 
accidens concipitur Deus, puta in aliquod attributo, sed 
etiam aliquis conceptus in quo per se et quidditative 
concipiatur Deus. 

Probo : quia concipiendo sapientem concipitur pro- 
prietas, secundum eum, vel quasi proprietas in actu 
secundo perficiens naturam. Ergo intelligendo sapientem 
oportet prius intelligere aliquod quid, quia cum intelligo 
istud quasi proprietatem inesse, et ita ante conceptus 
omnium passionum vel quasi passionum, oportet quae- 
rere conceptum quidditativum cui intelligantur ista 
attribui ; et iste conceptus alius erat quidditativus de 
Deo, quia in nullo alio potest esse status. 

[i Secunda Sentential • Secundo dico quod non tantum in 
conceptu analogo conceptui creaturae concipitur Deus, 
scilicet qui omnino sit alius ab illo qui de creatura dicitur, 
sed in conceptu aliquo univoco sibi et creaturae. 

man’s natural knowledge of god 19 

when the mind, on the basis of God’s simplicity, identifies 
any of His other attributes with His primary attribute, 
namely, being itself. 

Since nothing is simpler than God, He is known not 
through a species proper to Him, but, in a manner 
reminiscent of the operation of the estimative power 
through a species, alien to Him, derived from creatures. 
And this holds for all three of the aforementioned ways 
of knowing God. 

[ Scotus's own opinion \ 

My answer to the first question is different. I shall 
contradict the preceding view on five points. The 
reasons I give for my position will refute the other. 

[First Statement ]. In the first place, then, I say that it is 
naturally possible to have not only a concept in which 
God is known incidentally, as it were — for instance, 
under the aspect of some attribute — but also one in 
which He is conceived by Himself and quidditatively. 

This I prove as follows. According to [Henry of 
Ghent], by conceiving “wise” we grasp a property or 
quasi-property which perfects the nature after the 
manner of a secondary act. In order to conceive “wise”, 
therefore, it is necessary to have a conception of some 
prior subject, because I understand this property to be 
verified existentially. And so we must look beyond all 
our ideas of attributes or quasi-attributes, in order to 
find a quidditative concept to which the former may be 
attributed. This other concept will be a quidditative 
notion of God, for our quest for a quasi-subject will not 
cease with any other kind of concept. 

[Second Statement ]. Secondly, I say that God is con- 
ceived not only in a concept analogous to the concept 
of a creature, that is, one which is wholly other than that 
which is predicated of creatures, but even in some 
concept univocal to Himself and to a creature. 



Et rie fiat contentio de nomine univocationis, univocum 
conceptum dico qui ita est unus quod ejus unitas sufficit 
ad contradictionem afbrmando et negando ipsum de 
eodem, sufficit etiam pro medio syllogistico, ut extrema 
unita in medio sic uno sine fallacia aequivocationis con- 
cludantur inter se uniri et univocationem sic intellectam 
probo quadrupliciter. 

[Arg. i], Primo sic : omnis intellectus certus de uno 
conceptu et dubius de diversis habet conceptum de quo 
est certus alium a conceptibus de quibus est dubius, sub- 
jectum includit praedicatum. Sed intellectus viatoris 
potest esse certus de Deo quod sit ens dubitando de ente 
finito vel infinito, creato vel increato ; ergo conceptus 
entis de Deo est alius a conceptu isto et illo, et ita neuter 
ex se, et in utroque illorum includitur, igitur univocus. 

Probatio majoris : quia nullus idem conceptus est 

certus et dubius ; ergo vel alius, quod est propositum, 
vel nullus, et nunc non erit certitudo de aliquo conceptu. 

Probatio minoris : Quilibet Philosophus fuit certus 
illud quod posuit primum principium esse ens, puta unus 
de igne et alius de aqua, certus erat quod erat ens. 
Non autem fuit certus quod esset ens creatum vel increa- 
tum, primum vel non primum. Non enim erat certus 
quod erat primum, quia tunc fuisset certus de falso, et 
falsum non est scibile ; nec quod erat ens non primum, 
quia tunc non posuissent oppositum. 

Confirmatur etiam : nam aliquis videns Philosophos 

man’s natural knowledge of GOD 20 

And lest there be a dispute about the name “univoca- 
tion”, I designate that concept univocal which possesses 
sufficient unity in itself, so that to affirm and deny it of 
one and the same thing would be a contradiction. It 
also has sufficient unity to serve as the middle term of a 
syllogism, so that wherever two extremes are united by a 
middle term that is one in this way, we may conclude to 
the union of the two extremes among themselves. Univo- 
cation in this sense I prove by the following four argu- 

[Arg. i]. The first is this. Every intellect that is 
certain about one concept, but dubious about others has, 
in addition to the concepts about which it is in doubt, 
another concept of which it is certain. (The subject 
includes the predicate.) Now, in this life already, a man 
can be certain in his mind that God is a being and still 
be in doubt whether He is a finite or an infinite being, a 
created or an uncreated being. Consequently, the con- 
cept of “being” as affirmed of God is different from the 
other two concepts but is included in both of them and 
therefore is univocal. 

Proof of the major. One and the same concept cannot 
be both certain and dubious. Therefore, either there is 
another concept (which is our contention), or there is 
no concept at all, and consequently no certitude about 
any concept. 

I prove the minor. Every philosopher was certain that 
what he postulated as a first principle was a being ; for 
instance, one was certain that fire was a being, another 
that water was a being. Yet he was not certain whether 
it was a created or an uncreated being, whether it was 
first or not first. He could not be certain that it was 
the first being, for then he would have been certain 
about something false, and what is false is not strictly 
knowable . 11 Neither was he certain that it was not 
first ; for then he would not have claimed the opposite. 

This reason is confirmed as follows : Someone 



discordare, potest esse certus de quocumque quod Deus 
[i read quilibet] posuit primum principium esse ens, et tamen 
propter contrarietatem opinionum eorum, potuit dubitare 
utrum sit hoc ens vel illud. Ettalidubitanti,sifieretdemon- 
stratio concludens vel destruens aliquem conceptum in- 
feriorem, puta quod ignis non erit ens primum, sed 
aliquid ens posterius primo ente, non destrueretur ille 
conceptus primus sibi certus quern habuit de ente, sed 
salvaretur in illo conceptu particulari probato de igne ; 
et per hoc probatur propositio supposita in ultima 
consequentia rationis, quae fuit quod ille conceptus certus 
quae est ex se neuter dubiorum in utroque istorum 

Quod si non cures de auctoritate ilia accepta de 
diversitate opinionum philosophantium, sed dicas quod 
quilibet habet duos conceptus in intellectu suo pro- 
pinquos, qui propter propinquitatem analogiae videntur 
esse unus conceptus. Contra hoc videtur esse quod tunc 
ex ista evasione videretur destructa omnis via probandi 
unitatem alicujus conceptus univocam. Si enim dicis 
hominem habere unum conceptum ad Socratem et 
Platonem, negabitur tibi et dicetur quod sunt duo, sed 
videntur unus propter magnam similitudinem. 

Praeterea, illi duo conceptus sunt simpliciter simplices, 
ergo non intelligibiles nisi distincte et totaliter, ergo si 
nunc non videntur duo, nec post. 

Item, aut concipiuntur ut omnino disparati et mirum 
quomodo videntur unus, aut ut comparati secundum 
analogiam aut secundum similitudinem vel distinctionem, 

man’s natural knowledge of GOD 21 

perceiving the disagreement among philosophers can still 
be certain that any of the things that they have acclaimed 
as the first principle is a being. Nevertheless, in view of 
the contrariety of opinions, he could be in doubt whether 
this or that being is primary. Now if we could demon- 
strate for such an individual the truth or falsity of one 
of these alternatives, for example that fire is not the first 
being, but is posterior to the first being, we would not 
destroy his first certain notion of it as a being, but this 
notion would survive in the particular conception which 
we had proven about fire. And this also proves the propo- 
sition stated as the final conclusion of the argument, 
namely that this certain concept, since as such it is 
neither of the doubtful notions, is preserved in both of 

You may not recognise the force of this argument 
based on the diversity of opinion among the philoso- 
phisers, but insist that each has in his mind two concepts 
closely resembling each other. Yet because of the very 
closeness of the analogy, they seem to be one concept. 
The following consideration, however, may be urged 
against this. By such an evasion all possibility of proving 
the unity of any univocal concept would be destroyed. 
For if you say that “man” is one concept applicable to 
both Socrates and Plato, some one will deny it, asserting 
that there are two concepts, but they seem to be one 
because of their great similarity. 

Furthermore, these two concepts are irreducibly 
simple. Unless, therefore, they are known distinctly 
and in toto, they cannot be known at all. Consequently, 
if these concepts are not perceived as two concepts now, 
they will not be perceived as two later on. 

Again, either these two concepts are conceived as 
opposed to each other, and then it is strange how they 
are perceived as one. Or they are compared according 
to analogy, or according to similarity or distinction, in 
which case they are conceived as distinct either prior to 



et tunc simul vel prius concipiuntur ut distincti, ergo non 
videntur unus. 

Item, ponendo duos conceptus, ponis duo objecta 
formalia cognita, quomodo sunt duo cognita formalia 
et non ut distincta. 

Praeterea, si intelligeret singularia sub propriis 
rationibus quamvis conceptus duorum ejusdem speciei 
essent similimi, non est dubium tamen, quin multo 
similiores quam isti duo in proposito, quia isti duo 
differunt specie, adhuc intellectus bene distingueret inter 
tales conceptus singularium... 

[Arg. n] . Secundo principaliter arguo sic : Nullus 
conceptus realis causatur in intellectu viatoris naturaliter 
nisi ab his, quae sunt naturaliter motiva intellectus nostri. 
Sed ilia sunt phantasma vel objectum relucens in phan- 
tasmate et intellectus agens, ergo nullus conceptus sim- 
plex naturaliter fit in intellectu nostro modo nisi qui 
potest fieri virtute istorum, sed conceptus qui non esset 
univocus objecto relucenti in phantasmate, sed omnino 
alius prior ad quern ille habeat analogiam, non potest 
fieri virtute intellectus agentis et phantasmatis, ergo talis 
conceptus alius analogus qui ponitur naturaliter in intel- 
lectu viatoris numquam erit et ita non poterit haberi 
naturaliter aliquis conceptus de Deo, quod est falsum. 

Probatio assumpti : Objectum quodcumque sive re- 
lucens in phantasmate sive in specie intelligibili cum 
intellectu agente vel possibili cooperante secundum 
ultimum suae virtutis facit sicut effectum sibi adaequatum 
conceptum suum proprium et conceptum omnium 
essentialiter vel virtualiter inclusorum in eo. Sed ille 
alius conceptus, qui ponitur analogus, non est essen- 

man’s natural knowledge of GOD 22 

or simultaneously with the comparison, and therefore 
they are not perceived as one concept. 

Likewise, in postulating two concepts, you assume that 
two formal objects are known. How then can two formal 
objects be known and not be known as distinct? 

Furthermore, if singulars were known under their 
proper notions even though the concepts of two of the 
same species were so very much alike, the intellect 
would still readily distinguish the concept of one singular 
from the other. And yet there is no doubt that such 
concepts are even more alike than the two concepts in 
question [viz. of God and of a creature], for the latter 
differ specifically. 

[Arg. ii]. My second principal argument is this. In 
the present life no concept representing reality is formed 
naturally in the mind except by reason of those factors 
which naturally motivate the intellect. Now these factors 
are the active intellect, and either the sense image or the 
object revealed in the sense image . 12 No simple concept, 
then, is produced naturally in our mind except that which 
can arise in virtue of these factors. Now, no concept 
could arise in virtue of the active intellect and the sense 
image that is not univocal but only analogous with, or 
wholly other than, what is revealed in the sense image. 
In the present life, since no other such analogous concept 
could arise in the intellect naturally, it would be simply 
impossible to have any natural concept of God what- 
soever. But this is false. 

Proof of the assumption. With the co-operation of the 
active and possible intellect, any object revealed in the 
sense image or existing as an intelligible species at the 
very most can produce in the intellect as its adequate 
effect (a) a proper concept of itself and (b) a concept of 
all that is essentially or virtually included in it. Now this 
concept which they postulate to be analogous is neither 
a proper concept of the object in the sense image nor is 
it a proper concept of anything virtually or essentially 



tialiter nec virtualiter inclusus in isto, nec etiam est iste, 
ergo iste non fiet ab aliquo tali movente. 

Et confirmatur ratio, quia objectum praeter con- 
ceptum suum proprium adaequatum et inclusum in ipso 
altero duorum modorum praedictorum nihil potest 
cognosci ex isto objecto nisi per discursum, sed discursus 
praesupponit cognitionem istius simplicitatis ad quod 

Formetur igitur ratio sic : quia nullum objectum facit 
conceptum simplicem proprium in isto intellectu con- 
ceptum simplicem proprium alterius objecti nisi con- 
tineat illud aliud objectum essentialiter vel virtualiter, 
objectum autem creatum non continet increatum 
essentialiter vel virtualiter, et hoc sub ea ratione sub qua 
sibi attribuuntur, ut posterius essentialiter attribuitur 
priori essentialiter, quia contra rationem posterioris 
essentialiter est includere virtualiter suum prius et patet 
quod objectum creatum non essentialiter continet in- 
creatum secundum aliquid omnino sibi proprium et non 
commune, ergo non facit conceptum simplicem et pro- 
prium enti increato... 

[Arg. iii]. Tertio arguitur sic : Conceptus proprius 
alicujus subjecti est sufficiens ratio concludendi de illo 
subjecto omnia conceptibilia quae sibi necessario insunt. 
Nullum autem conceptum habemus de Deo per quern 
sufficienter possumus cognoscere omnia concepta a 
nobis quae necessario sibi insunt. Patet de Trinitate, et 
aliis creditis necessariis ; ergo, etc. 

Major probatur, quia immediatam quamlibet cognos- 
cimus, inquantum terminos cognoscimus. Igitur patet 
major de omni illo conceptibili quod immediate inest 
conceptui subjecti, quod si insit mediate, fiet idem 

man’s natural knowledge of god 23 

included in it . 13 Consequently, it cannot arise by any 
such moving factor. 

And this argument is confirmed by the fact that except 
through a reasoning process the mind can know nothing 
from this object besides the proper and adequate concept 
of the object itself and whatever is included therein in 
one of the two aforementioned ways. But such a reason- 
ing process presupposes a knowledge of the simple thing 
towards which one reasons. 

Consequently, the argument may be formulated as 
follows : No object will produce a simple and proper 
concept of itself and a simple and proper concept of 
another object, unless it contains this second object 
essentially or virtually. No created object, however, 
contains the “Uncreated” essentially or virtually — at 
least in the way that the two are actually related, namely 
as what is by nature secondary is related to what is by 
nature prior. For it is contrary to the very notion of 
what is essentially secondary to include virtually what 
is prior to it. It is also obvious that the created does not 
contain, as part of its essence, something that is not 
merely common, but is exclusively proper to the ‘Un- 
created”. Therefore, it produces no simple and proper 
concept of the “Uncreated” at all. 

[Arg. hi]. The third argument is this. The proper 
concept of any subject provides sufficient ground for 
concluding to everything conceivable which necessarily 
inheres in that subject. We have no concept of God, 
however, that enables us to know every necessary attri- 
bute which we conceive of Him, as is evident from the 
fact of the Trinity, and the other necessary attributes 
that we know of Him by faith. Therefore, etc. 

Proof of the major. We know any immediate proposi- 
tion in so far as we know its terms. Consequently, the 
major clearly holds for every concept that is immediately 
verified existentially of the subject-concept. If it is a 
question of a notion that is only mediately verified, our 



argumentum de medio comparato ad idem subjectum, 
et ubicumque stabitur, habetur propositum de im- 
mediatis, et ultra per illas scientur mediatae. 

[Arg. iv]. Item, quarto potest sic argui. Aut aliqua 
perfectio simpliciter habet rationem communem Deo et 
creaturae, et habetur propositum, aut non, sed tantum 
propriam creaturae, et tunc ratio ejus non conveniet 
formaliter Deo, quod est inconveniens. Aut habet 
rationem omnino propriam Deo, et tunc sequitur quod 
nihil attribuendum est Deo, quia est perfectio simpliciter. 
Nam hoc nihil est aliud dicere, nisi quod quia ratio ejus 
ut convenit Deo, dicit perfectionem simpliciter, ideo 
ipsum ponitur in Deo, et ita peribit doctrina Anselmi 
Monologion,* ubi vult quod praetermissis relationibus in 
omnibus aliis quidquid est simpliciter melius ipsum quam 
non ipsum, attribuendum est Deo, sicut quodcumque 
non tale, est amovendum ab ipso. Primo ergo secundum 
ipsum aliquid cognoscitur esse tale et secundo attribuitur 
Deo. Ergo non est tale praecise ut in Deo. 

Hoc etiam confirmatur quia tunc nulla perfectio 
simpliciter esset in creatura. Consequentia patet, quia 
nullius talis perfectionis etiam conceptus aliquis convenit 
creaturae nisi conceptus analogicus ex hypothesi. Talis 
secundum se, quia analogicus, est imperfectus et in nullo 
est ejus ratio melior non ipso, quia alias secundum illam 
rationem analogicam poneretur in Deo. 

Confirmatur etiam haec quarto ratio sic : Omnis 

Cap. xv (Migne, P.L., clviii, 162-3). 

man’s natural knowledge of god 24 

argument will continue to apply to the middle term in 
reference to the subject-concept until we have what we 
are seeking — some immediate propositions. Through 
these immediate truths, then, the mediate truths will be 

[Arg. iv], A fourth argument can also be adduced. 
Either some pure perfection 14 has a common meaning as 
applied to God and creatures (which is our contention), 
or not. If not, it is either because its meaning does not 
apply formally to God at all (which is inadmissible), or 
else it has a meaning that is wholly proper to God, in 
which case nothing need be attributed to God because 
it is a pure perfection. For such an assumption is 
equivalent to saying that the meaning of such a perfection 
in so far as it applied to God, is a pure perfection and 
therefore is affirmed of God. But this is to bring to 
nought what Anselm teaches in the Monologion* namely 
that, with regard to everything except relations, whatever 
is unconditionally better than something which is not it, 
must be attributed to God, even as everything not of this 
kind [i.e. everything that is not better than anything 
positive that is incompatible with it] must be denied of 
Him. According to Anselm, then, we first know some- 
thing to be a pure perfection and secondly we attribute 
this perfection to God. Therefore, it is not a pure per- 
fection precisely in so far as it is in God. 

This is also confirmed by the fact that otherwise no 
pure perfection would exist in creatures. The conse- 
quence is evident, for in this hypothesis only such con- 
cepts as express such pure perfections analogously can be 
applied to a creature. But such a notion in itself is 
imperfect since it is only analogous to the pure perfec- 
tion. And therefore, nothing is any better for having 
this analogous perfection than it would be if it did not 
have it, for otherwise such a perfection would be affirmed 
of God. 

This fourth reason is also confirmed as follows. Every 



inquisitio metaphysica de Deo sic procedit, considerando 
formalem rationem alicujus et auferendo ab ilia ratione 
formali imperfectionem quam habet in creaturis et re- 
servando illam rationem formalem et attribuendo sibi 
omnino summam perfectionem et sic attribuendo illud 
Deo. Exemplum de formali ratione sapientiae vel 
intellectus vel voluntatis. Consideratur enim in se et 
secundum se, et ex hoc quod ista ratio non concludit 
formaliter imperfectionem aliquam nec limitationem, 
removetur ab ipsa imperfectiones quae concomitantur 
earn in creaturis et reservata eadem ratione sapientiae 
et voluntatis attribuuntur ista Deo perfectissime, ergo 
omnis inquisitio de Deo supponit intellectum habere 
conceptum eundem univocum quern accepit ex creaturis. 

Quod si dicas alia est formalis ratio eorum quae 
conveniunt Deo, ex hoc sequitur inconveniens, quod ex 
nulla ratione propria eorum prout sunt in creaturis 
possunt concludi de Deo, quia omnino alia et alia ratio 
illorum est et istorum. Immo non magis concludetur 
quod Deus est sapiens formaliter ex ratione sapientiae 
quam apprehendimus ex creaturis quam quod Deus est 
formaliter lapis. Potest enim conceptus aliquis alius 
a conceptu lapidis creati formari ad quern conceptum 
lapidis ut est idea in Deo habet iste lapis attributionem, 
et ita formaliter diceretur Deus est lapis secundum istum 
conceptum analogicum vel analogum, sicut sapiens 
secundum ilium conceptum analogum. 

Qualis autem sit univocatio entis, ad quanta et ad 
quae dicetur magis in quaestione de primo objecto 

[ Tertia Sentential. Tertio dico quod Deus non cog- 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. hi, q. iii. 

man’s natural knowledge of god 25 

metaphysical inquiry about God proceeds in this fashion : 
the formal notion of something is considered ; the im- 
perfection associated with this notion in creatures is 
removed, and then, retaining this same formal notion, 
we ascribe to it the ultimate degree of perfection and 
then attribute it to God. Take, for example, the formal 
notion of “wisdom” or “intellect” or “will”. Such a 
notion is considered first of all simply in itself and 
absolutely. Because this notion includes formally no 
imperfection nor limitation, the imperfections associated 
with it in creatures are removed. Retaining this same 
notion of “wisdom” and “will”, we attribute these to God 
— but in a most perfect degree. Consequently, every 
inquiry regarding God is based upon the supposition that 
the intellect has the same univocal concept which it 
obtained from creatures. 

If you maintain that this is not true, but that the formal 
concept of what pertains to God is another notion, a 
disconcerting consequence ensues ; namely that from the 
proper notion of anything found in creatures nothing at 
all can be inferred about God, for the notion of what is 
in each is wholly different. We would have no more 
reason to conclude that God is formally wise from the 
notion of wisdom derived from creatures than we would 
have reason to conclude that God is formally a stone. 
For it is possible to form another notion of a stone to 
which the notion of a created stone bears some relation, 
for instance, stone as an idea in God. And so we could 
say formally, “God is a stone”, according to this analo- 
gous concept, just as we say, “He is wise”, according to 
another analogous concept. 

What kind of univocation is ascribed to being and how 
far and to what it extends, will all be discussed more at 
length in a subsequent question on the primary object 
of the intellect . 15 

[ Third Statement ] . Thirdly, I say that God is not known 
naturally by anyone in the present life in a proper and 



noscitur naturaliter a viatore in particulari et proprie, 
hoc est, sub ratione hujus essentiae ut haec et in se. 

Sed ratio ilia posita ad hoc in praecedenti opinione non 
concludit. Cum enim arguitur quod non cognoscitur 
aliquid nisi per simile, aut intelligit per simile de simili- 
tudine univocationis aut imitationis. Si primo modo, 
igitur nihil cognoscitur de Deo secundum illam opinio- 
nem, quia in nullo habet similitudinem univocationis 
secundum ilium modum. Si secundo modo, et creaturae 
non tantum imitantur illam essentiam sub ratione 
generalis attributi, sed etiam essentiam hanc ut est haec 
essentia sive ut nuda in se est existens, secundum eum ; 
sic enim magis est idea vel exemplar quoniam sub 
ratione generalis attributi ; ergo propter talem simili- 
tudinem posset creatura esse principium cognoscendi 
essentiam divinam in se et in particulari. 

Est ergo alia ratio hujus quaestionis, videlicet quod 
Deus ut haec essentia in se non cognoscitur naturaliter 
a nobis, quia sub ratione talis cognoscibilis est objectum 
voluntarium non naturale nisi respectu sui intellectus 
tantum, et ideo a nullo intellectu creato potest sub 
ratione hujus essentiae ut haec est naturaliter cognosci. 
Nec aliqua essentia naturaliter cognoscibilis a nobis 
sufficienter ostendit hanc essentiam ut haec, nec per 
similitudinem univocationis nec imitationis. Univocatio 
enim non est nisi in generalibus rationibus, imitatio 
etiam deficit, quia imperfecta, quia creatura imperfecte 
eum imitatur. 

Utrum autem sit alia ratio hujus impossibilitatis, 
videlicet propter rationem primi objecti, sicut alii ponunt, 
de hoc in quaestione de primo objecto.* 

[ Quarta Sententia\. Quarto dico quod ad multos con- 

* Opus oxoniense, I, dist. in, q. iii. 

man’s natural knowledge of god 26 

particular manner ; that is to say, we do not know Him 
in His essence itself precisely as this essence. 

But the reason given for this in the preceding opinion 
is not conclusive. For, when [Henry] argues that one 
thing can be known from another only by reason of what 
is similar, we can only understand this likeness to be one 
of univocation or of imitation. If the first is meant, then 
nothing is known about God, for according to this 
opinion there is no likeness of univocation between God 
and creatures whereby He might be known by us. If the 
second is meant, then creatures would not imitate God’s 
essence merely under the aspect of some general attribute, 
but also precisely as “this essence”, unveiled and as it 
exists in itself, for in this way it is more an idea or 
exemplar than if it were conceived under some general 
attribute. By reason of this similarity, therefore, a crea- 
ture, according to him, could be a principle of knowing 
the divine essence in itself and in particular. 

There is, however, another reason for this conclusion 
that God Himself as this essence is not an object of natural 
knowledge for us ; for if He be known in this way by any 
intellect other than His own, it is as a voluntary and not 
as a natural object . 16 Therefore He cannot be known 
naturally by any created intellect precisely as “this 
essence”. Neither is there any essence naturally know- 
able to us that would suffice to reveal “this essence” as 
“this essence” whether by reason of a likeness of univoca- 
tion or of imitation. For there is univocation only where 
general notions are concerned. Imitation too is deficient 
because it is imperfect, for creatures only imperfectly 
imitate Him. 

Whether there is another reason for the impossibility 
of such knowledge based on the nature of the primary 
object of the intellect, which some claim to be the 
quiddity of a material thing, will be discussed in the 
question on the primary object of the intellect. 

[. Fourth Statement ]. Fourthly, I say that we can arrive 



ceptus proprios Deo possumus pervenire qui non con- 
veniunt creaturis. Gujusmodi sunt conceptus omnium 
perfectionum simpliciter in summo, et perfectissimus 
conceptus in quo quasi in quadam descriptione per- 
fectissime cognoscimus Deum est concipiendo omnes per- 
fectiones simpliciter et in summo. Tamen conceptus 
perfectior simul et simplicior nobis possibilis est conceptus 
entis infiniti. Iste enim est simplicior quam conceptus 
entis boni, entis veri, vel aliorum similium, quia infinitum 
non est quasi attributum vel passio entis, sive ejus de quo 
dicitur, sed dicit modum intrinsecum illius entitatis, ita 
quod cum dico infinitum ens, non habeo conceptum 
quasi per accidens ex subjecto et passione, sed conceptum 
per se subjecti in certo gradu perfectionis, scilicet infini- 
tatis, sicut albedo intensa non dicit conceptum per acci- 
dens sicut albedo visibilis ; immo intensio dicit gradum 
intrinsecum albedinis in se et ita patet simplicitas hujus 
conceptus ens infinitum. 

Probatur perfectio istius conceptus, turn quia iste 
conceptus inter omnes nobis conceptibiles conceptus 
virtualiter plura includit, sicut enim ens includit virtua- 
liter verum et bonum in se, ita ens infinitum includit 
verum infinitum et bonum infinitum et omnem per- 
fectionem simpliciter sub ratione infiniti. Turn quia 
demonstratione quia ultimo concluditur esse de ente 
infinito, sicut apparet ex quaestione prima secundae 
distinctionis. Ilia autem sunt perfectiora quae ultimo 
cognoscuntur demonstratione quia ex eis, quia propter 
eorum remotionem a creaturis difficilimum est ea ex 
creaturis concludere. 

Si dicis de summo bono vel summo ente quod istud 

man’s natural knowledge of god 27 

at many concepts proper to God in the sense that they 
do not apply to creatures. Such are the concepts of all 
the pure perfections when taken in the highest degree. 
And the most perfect concept of all, by which we know 
God most perfectly, as it were, in a descriptive sort of 
way, is obtained by conceiving all the pure perfections 
and each in the highest degree. Now a less perfect but 
simpler concept is possible to us, namely the concept of 
an infinite being. For this is simpler than the concept of 
“good being” or “true being” or other similar concepts, 
since infinite is not a quasi-attribute or property of 
“being” or of that of which it is predicated. Rather it 
signifies an intrinsic mode of that entity, so that when I 
say “Infinite Being”, I do not have a concept composed 
accidentally, as it were, of a subject and its attribute. 
What I do have is a concept of what is essentially one, 
namely of a subject with a certain grade of perfection — 
infinity. It is like “intense whiteness”, which is not a 
notion that is accidentally composed, such as “visible 
whiteness” would be, for the intensity is an intrinsic 
grade of whiteness itself. Thus the simplicity of this 
concept “Infinite Being” is evident. 

Now the perfection of this concept is proved first from 
the fact that it virtually includes more than any other 
concept we can conceive. As “being” virtually includes 
the “good” and the “true”, so “Infinite Being” includes 
the “infinitely good”, the “infinitely true”, and all pure 
perfections under the aspect of infinity. It is also proved 
from this fact. With a demonstration of fact , 17 the 
existence of an Infinite Being, or the fact that something 
has infinite being, is the last conclusion to be established. 
This is clear from Dist. n, q. i . 18 The more perfect, 
however, are the last to be established by a demonstration 
of fact which begins with creatures. For their very 
remoteness from creatures makes knowledge of them 
from creatures most difficult of attainment. 

But if you say that “highest good” or “Highest Being” 



dicit modum intrinsecum ends et includit virtualiter alios 
conceptus : respondeo, quod si summum intelligatur 

comparative, sic dicit respectum ad extra, sed infinitum 
dicit conceptum ad se. Si autem intelligas absolute 
summum, hoc est, quod ex natura rei non posset excedi, 
perfectio ilia expressius concipitur in ratione infiniti 
entis. Non enim summum bonum indicat in se utrum 
sit infinitum vel finitum. 

Ex hoc apparet improbatio illius quod dicitur in 
praecedenti opinione, quod perfect issimum est cognos- 
cere attributa reducendo ilia in esse divinum propter 
simplicitatem divinam. Cognitio enim esse divini sub 
ratione infiniti est perfectior cognitione ejus sub ratione 
simplicitatis, quia simplicitas communicatur creaturis, 
infinitas autem non secundum modum quo convenit Deo. 

[Quinta Sententia ]. Quinto dico quod ista quae cog- 
noscuntur de Deo cognoscuntur per species creaturarum, 
quia sive universalius et minus universale cognoscantur 
per eandem speciem minus universalis sive utrumque 
habeat speciem sui intelligibilem. Si propriam saltern 
illud quod potest imprimere speciem minus universalis 
in intellectu potest etiam causare speciem cujuscumque 
universalioris et ita creaturae quae imprimunt proprias 
species in intellectu possunt etiam imprimere species 
transcendentium quae communiter conveniunt eis et 
Deo. Et tunc intellectus propria virtute potest uti multis 
speciebus simul ad concipiendum ilia simul quorum 
sunt istae species, puta specie boni et specie summi et 
specie actus ad concipiendum aliquid summum bonum 
et actualissimum, quod apparet per locum a minori. 
Imaginativa enim potest uti speciebus diversorum 

man’s natural knowledge of god 28 

expresses an intrinsic mode of being and includes other 
concepts virtually, I reply that if “highest” be taken in a 
comparative sense, then it includes a relation to something 
extrinsic to the being, whereas “infinite” is an absolute 
concept. But if “highest” is understood in an absolute 
sense, i.e. as meaning that the very nature of the thing is 
such that it cannot be exceeded, then this perfection is 
conceived even more expressly in the notion of an infinite 
being, because “highest good” does not indicate as such 
whether it is infinite or finite. 

This obviously refutes the assertion made in the 
previous opinion [of Henry], namely that the most per- 
fect knowledge we have of God is to know His attributes 
as identified with the divine being in virtue of His simpli- 
city. A knowledge of the divine being as infinite is, 
however, more perfect than a knowledge of Him as 
simple, for simplicity is shared with creatures, whereas 
infinity, as God possesses it, is not. 

[ Fifth Statement \ . In the fifth place, I say that what we 
know of God is known through intelligible species of 
creatures. Whether the more universal and less universal 
have each their own proper intelligible species, or 
whether both are known through one and the same 
species, namely that which is less universal, this in any 
case is true. Whatever can imprint or cause a species of 
what is less universal, can also cause any species of that 
which is more universal. Thus it is that creatures which 
impress their own proper species on the intellect can also 
impress the species of the transcendentals which are 
common to themselves and to God . 19 Then, the intellect 
in virtue of its own power can make use of many such 
species simultaneously, in order to conceive at one time 
those things of which these are the species. For instance, 
it can use the species of “good”, the species of “highest”, 
the species of “act”, to conceive the “highest good which 
is pure act”. This is clear from an instance of the dia- 
lectical rule a minori, 20 for the imagination is able to use 



sensibilium ad imaginandum compositum ex illis diversis, 
sicut apparet imaginando montem aureum. 

Ex hoc apparet improbatio illius quod dicitur in 
praecedenti opinione de ilia suffosione, quia suffodiendo 
numquam illud quod non subest suffosioni invenitur 
per suffbsionem. Non autem subest conceptui creaturae 
aliquis conceptus vel species repraesentans aliquid 
proprium Deo quod sit omnino alterius rationis ab eo 
quod convenit creaturae, ut probatum est per secundam 
rationem in secundo articulo. Ergo per suffbsionem 
nullus talis conceptus invenitur. 

Et quod adducitur simile de aestimativa, dico quod 
videtur adduci falsum ad confirmationem alterius falsi, 
quia si maneat ovis in eadem natura et in eodem affectu 
naturali ad agnum, imitaretur [ read mutaretur] tamen ut 
esset similis lupo per miraculum in omnibus accidentibus 
sensibilibus, puta colore, figura et sono et caeteris hujus- 
modi, agnus fugeret ovem sic mutatam sicut fugeret 
lupum. Et tamen in ove sic mutata non esset intentio 
nocivi, sed convenientis. Ergo aestimativa agni non 
suffoderet ad inveniendum intentionem convenientis sub 
speciebus sensibilibus, si praecise ita moveretur secundum 
appetitum sensitivum sicut accidentia sensibilia move- 

Si dicas quod ibi intentio convenientis non multiplicat 
se quia non sunt talia accidentia convenientia tali 
intentioni, et intentio convenientis non multiplicatur 
sine accidentibus convenientibus, hoc nihil est, quia si 
agnus fugeret lupum propter perceptionem nocivi con- 
ceptam ab aestimativa et ilia non multiplicatur cum 
accidentibus istis sensibilibus quia non est cum eis 

man’s natural knowledge of god 29 

the species of different things perceptible to the senses and 
thus imagine a composite of these different elements, as is 
apparent, for instance, when we imagine a gold mountain. 

This obviously refutes the assertion made in the 
previous opinion regarding the process whereby the 
intellect burrows beneath the concept of creatures. For 
by such a process, we can unearth only what lies beneath 
the surface. In the concept of a creature, however, no 
notion or species will be found to represent something 
proper to God which is wholly different in nature from 
anything pertaining to a creature, as we have proved in 
the second reason for the second statement. Conse- 
quently, we shall never discover such a concept by this 
burrowing process. 

And as to the analogy of the estimative power, I would 
say that he seems to adduce one false instance to confirm 
another. For if a sheep were to remain the same in 
nature and to retain its natural affection towards a lamb, 
and yet by some miracle were to be changed accidentally 
so as to resemble a wolf in all its sensible manifestations, 
for instance in its colour, its shape, its cries, and all the 
rest of it, a lamb would flee from such a sheep just as it 
would flee from a wolf. And still such a sheep has only 
friendly, and not harmful, intentions towards the lamb. 
Consequently, the estimative power would not dig 
beneath the sense images to discover the friendliness, if 
it were moved according to the sense appetite in the 
precise way that the sensible appearances move it. 

It does not help at all to say that this friendliness is 
not conveyed sensibly in such a case, since the external 
manifestations do not agree with the intent in question, 
and that it is only when the two agree that the friendly 
intent will be conveyed in a perceptible manner. For if 
the lamb flees from the wolf only because, by its estima- 
tive power, it perceives something inimical, and in the 
present case the intention [of friendliness] is not trans- 
mitted perceptibly where the sensible manifestations are 

( 2 , 322 ) 6 



[injtentio casu, ergo haec est suffosio agni ad intentionem 
nocivi, quae nulla est, aut si hie non fugit propter suf- 
fossionem, ergo nec alias. 

[Ad Argumenta Principalia] 

Ad argumenta istius quaestionis : 

Ad primum dico quod ilia comparatio debet intelligi 
quantum ad primam motionem intellectus ab objecto, 
ibi enim phantasma cum intellectu agente habent vicem 
objecti primi moventis, sed non debet intelligi quantum 
ad omnem actum sequentem primam motionem. Potest 
enim intellectus abstrahere omne objectum inclusum in 
objecto primo movente, et considerare illud abstractum 
non considerando illud a quo abstrahit et considerando 
istud abstractum sic considerat commune sensibili etinsen- 
sibili, quia in illo consideratur insensibile in universali sicut 
et sensibile, et potest considerare illud abstractum et aliud 
abstractum in quo sit proprium alteri, scilicet insensibili ; 
sed sensus non est abstractive, et ideo in omni actu tam 
primo quam secundo requirit objectum aliquod proprium 
movens quomodo non se habet phantasma ad intellectum. 

Ad secundum dico quod Commentator exponit illud 
simile Philosophi de difficili et non de impossibili, et 
ratio sua est quia tunc natura fecisset otiose illas sub- 
stantias abstractas intelligibiles, et non possibiles intelligi 
ab aliquo intellectu. Sed ista ratio ejus non valet ; turn 

man’s natural knowledge of god 30 

those [of a wolf], it follows that the lamb unearths a 
non-existent intention of enmity ; or if the lamb does 
not flee in virtue of what it discovers by such a burrow- 
ing process in the present instance, then neither does it 
do so in other cases. 

[Reply to the Arguments at the Beginning] 

As to the arguments at the beginning of this question : 

To the first , 21 I reply that the Philosopher’s comparison 
applies to the initial movement of the intellect by the 
object, for in this case the sense images together with the 
active intellect function in the role of primary moving 
object. It must not be understood, however, of all the 
actions which follow this initial movement. For the 
intellect can abstract any object which is included in that 
which produces the initial movement. It is able to con- 
sider the former without considering that from which it 
was abstracted. Now when the intellect considers some- 
thing that has been abstracted in this way, it grasps what 
is common to both sensible and insensible. In its con- 
sideration the intellect can unite a second abstract notion 
with the first so that the latter becomes proper to some- 
thing else, namely to the insensible, for in the abstracted 
are considered both the insensible (in the universal) as 
well as the sensible. The sense faculty, however, is 
incapable of making abstractions. Therefore, in all its 
acts, whether they be primary or secondary, it requires 
some object to first put it in motion. But this is not 
the way that the sense image is related to the intellect. 

To the second , 22 I reply that the Commentator restricts 
this comparison of the Philosopher to what is difficult, 
but not impossible, to know. And his reason is that 
otherwise nature would have made these separate sub- 
stances intelligible in vain, for no intellect would be able 
to know them. But this reason is invalid, first of all, 



quia non est finis istarum substantiarum inquantum 
intelligibiles sunt ut intelligantur ab intellectu nostro, 
et ideo si hoc non conveniret eis, non propter hoc essent 
frustra intelligibiles ; turn quia non sequitur : non sunt 
intelligibiles ab intellectu nostro, ergo a nullo, possent 
enim intelligi a seipsis, et ideo est ibi fallacia consequentis. 
Unde licet multipliciter posset exponi auctoritas Philo- 
sophi, dico quod oculus noctuae non habet cognitionem 
nisi intuitivam et naturalem, et quantum ad istas duas 
conditiones potest exponi auctoritas Philosophi de 
impossibilitate, quia sicut est impossibile illi oculo intui- 
tive considerare objectum istud, sic intellectui nostro est 
impossibile naturaliter et etiam intuitive cognoscere 

Ad tertium, dico quod infinitum potentiale est ignotum 
quia unumquodque est cognoscibile inquantum est in 
actu. Non tamen est ignotum sequitur [ read sic] quod 
repugnet sibi intelligi ab intellectu infinito, sed non 
potest infinitum cognosci ab aliquo intellectu cog- 
noscente ipsum secundum modum suae infinitatis. 
Modus enim suae infinitatis est accipiendo alterum 
post alterum, et intellectus qui cognosceret hoc modo 
alterum post alterum, cognosceret semper finitum et 
numquam infinitum, intellectus tamen infinitus potest 
cognoscere totum illud simul, non partem post partem. 
Cum etiam arguitur de secundo Metaphysicae de infinitis 
et infinito, dico quod non est simile quia cognitio objec- 
torum infinitorum numeraliter concluderet infinitatem 
potentiae cognoscentis, sicut patuit in quaestione prima 
secundae distinctionis argumento secundo ad infini- 
tatem, quia videlicet ibi pluralitas ex parte objecti con- 

man’s natural knowledge of god 31 

because we cannot say that the sole purpose or reason 
for the intelligibility of these substances is that we may 
know them. Consequently, even if we could know 
nothing about them, we still could not say they are 
intelligible to no purpose. Secondly, it does not follow 
that just because these substances are unintelligible to 
our minds, they are unintelligible to all minds, for they 
could be intelligible to themselves. Therefore, we have 
the fallacy of affirming the consequent . 23 Wherefore I 
say that even though there are many ways in which this 
citation of the Philosopher could be explained, still the 
eye of the bat has only a natural and intuitive know- 
ledge. And on the basis of these two characteristics the 
Philosopher’s words can be explained even in terms of 
impossibility. For just as it is impossible for the eye of 
the bat to consider such an object naturally and in- 
tuitively, so it is also impossible for our intellect to 
possess a natural and intuitive knowledge of God . 24 

To the third , 26 I reply that the potentially infinite is 
unknown, because only to the extent that something is 
in act it is knowable. But it is not so unknown that it 
would be impossible for an infinite intellect to know it. 
Nevertheless the [potentially] infinite cannot be known 
by an intellect which proceeds to know it in the way that 
it is infinite. For it is infinite only in so far as the mind 
in considering only one thing after another never comes 
to an end. Now the mind which considers only one thing 
after another in this way always considers something 
finite and never something infinite. An infinite intellect, 
however, can know the whole thing at once, and not 
simply one part after another. And to the argument 
from Metaphysics, bk. h, concerning infinite numbers 
and the “Infinite”, I reply that there is no parity between 
the two, for a knowledge of an infinite number of objects 
would imply that the faculty of knowledge itself is 
infinite (as is clear from q. i of dist. n regarding the 
infinity of God ), 26 since one can infer a greater power of 



cludit majoritatem virtutis in intellectu, sed intdlectio 
alicujus infiniti non concludit infinitatem, quia non 
oportet actum habere talem modum realem, qualem 
habet objectum, quia actus sub ratione finiti potest esse 
ad objectum sub ratione infiniti nisi esset actus compre- 
hensivus, et concedo quod talem actum circa objectum 
infinitum non habemus nec possibile est habere. 

Ad Gregorium dico quod non debet intelligi quod 
contemplatio sistat sub Deo in aliqua creatura, quia hoc 
esset frui utendis, quod esset summa perversitas secundum 
Augustinum LXXXIII Quaestionum, quaestione xxx.* 
Sed conceptus illius essentiae sub ratione entis est imper- 
fectior conceptu illius essentiae ut haec essentia est, et 
quia est imperfectior, ideo inferior in intelligibilitate, 
contemplatio autem de lege communi stat in tali con- 
ceptu communi, et ideo stat in aliquo conceptu qui est 
minoris intelligibilitatis quam Deus in se, ut est haec 
essentia. Et ideo debet intelligi ad aliquid quod est sub 
Deo, hoc est ad aliquid sub ratione intelligibilis cujus 
intelligibilitas est inferior intelligibilitate Dei in se, ut 
haec essentia singularis. 

[Ad Argumenta pro Opinione Henrici\ 

Ad argumenta pro prima opinione, cum arguitur quod 
Deus non potest intelligi in aliquo conceptu communi 
sibi et creaturis univoce, quia est singularitas quaedam : 
consequentia non valet. Socrates enim inquantum 
Socrates est singularis et tamen a Socrate plura possunt 
abstrahi praedicata, et ideo singularitas alicujus non 

* Migne, P. L., xl, 20. 

man’s natural knowledge of god 32 

intellect from a greater number of objects known. But 
a knowledge of something infinite does not imply that 
the act of knowledge itself is infinite unless it be an act 
which fully comprehends the object, for it is not necessary 
that the act and object should have the same mode of 
reality, since an act which by nature is finite can be 
related to an object which by nature is infinite. I admit, 
however, that we neither have, nor can have, such a 
comprehensive act of knowledge in regard to an infinite 

To the [fourth] argument , 27 [that] of Gregory, I reply 
that we should not think that contemplation terminates 
in some creature beneath God, for this would be to enjoy 
as an end what is to be used as a means. According to 
Augustine,* this would be the greatest perversion. But 
the concept of God’s essence under the aspect of “being” 
is less perfect than the concept of the same essence as 
“this essence”. Because it is less perfect, it falls below 
the latter concept in intelligibility. But the contempla- 
tion that is characteristic of the ordinary dispensation 
rests with just such an [imperfect or] common concept, 
and hence with one of inferior intelligibility to God Him- 
self considered as this essence. Consequently “to what is 
beneath God” must be understood in terms of being 
intelligible, [that is to say it refers to a concept] whose 
intelligibility is less than that of God considered in Him- 
self as this singular essence. 

[A Reply to the Arguments in Support of Henry ] 

To the arguments for the first opinion 28 I reply that 
when it is argued that God by reason of His unique 
singularity cannot be known through some concept 
univocally common to Himself and creatures, the conse- 
quence is invalid. For Socrates, in so far as he is Socrates, 
is singular. Nevertheless several predicates can be ab- 
stracted from Socrates. Consequently, the singularity 



impedit, quin ab eo quod singulare est, possit abstrahi 
aliquis conceptus communis. Et licet quidquid ibi in re sit 
singulare ex se in existendo ita quod nihil contrahit aliud 
ibi ad singularitatem, tamen illud idem potest concipi 
ut hoc in re, vel quodammodo indistincte, et ita ut 
singulare vel commune. 

Quod dicit pro ilia opinione de cognitione per accidens, 
non oportet improbare, quia quasi per accidens cognos- 
citur in attributo, sed non praecise sicut probatum est. 

man’s natural knowledge of god 33 

of a thing is no impediment to the abstraction of a 
common concept. Though in reality everything in God, 
since it exists of itself, is singular, so that one thing does 
not contract another to singularity, nevertheless one and 
the same thing can be conceived indistinctly or as “this 
thing existing in reality”, and thus it can be conceived 
either as common or as singular. 

There is no need to refute what he says regarding an 
incidental knowledge of God, because God is known in 
a quasi-incidental manner in an attribute. However, 
this is not the sole way He can be known, as has been 
proved above. 



Summary of the Argument 

Question : Among beings does one exist which is actually 
infinite ? 

Pro et Contra 

Body of the Question 

Article I. Relative properties of God 

Part i. The triple primacy 

a. Primacy of efficient causality 

b. Primacy of finality 

c. Primacy of pre-eminence 
Part ii. Interrelation of the three primacies 

Part hi. Unity of the divine nature 

Article II. Absolute properties of God 
Part i. Intellect and will 
Part ii. The infinity of the First Being 

a. First proof 

b. Second proof 

c. Third proof 

d. Fourth proof 

e. An ineffective proof 

Solution of the Question 
Reply to the Arguments at the beginning 



fill. DE ESSE DEl] * 

Circa secundam distinctionem quaero primo de his 
quae pertinent ad unitatem Dei, et primo, utrum in 
entibus sit aliquid existens actu infinitum. 

[Pro et Contra] 

Quod non, sic arguitur : 

Si unum contrariorum esset actu infinitum, nihil sibi 
contrarium esset in natura ; ergo si aliquod bonum sit 
actu infinitum, nihil mali esset in universo. Respondetur 
quod major est vera de contrariis formaliter ; sed nihil 
malum contrariatur Deo formaliter. Contra : sive 

formaliter sive virtualiter contrarietur, si est infinitum, 
nihil patitur contrarium sui effectus, quia propter infini- 
tam virtutem destruet omne incompossibile suo effectui ; 
ergo est major vera de contrario virtualiter, sicut for- 
maliter. Exemplum : si sol esset infinite calidus vir- 
tualiter, nihil relinqueret frigidum in universo sicut nec 
si esset infinite calidus formaliter. 

Item, corpus infinitum nullum aliud secum compatitur ; 
sicut nec ens infinitum aliquod aliud ens cum eo. Pro- 
batio consequentiae : turn quia sicut repugnat dimensio 
dimensioni, ita videtur actualitas actualitati repugnare ; 
turn quia sicut corpus aliud ab infinito, faceret cum illo 
aliquid majus infinito, ita ens aliud ab infinito videtur 
facere aliquid majus infinito. 

Praeterea, quod ita est hie, quod non alibi, est 

* Opus oxoniense, I, dist. ii, q. i (Assisi 137, f. I4r*>-i8r ! ' ; cf. Vives, 
vol. viii, 




First I inquire about those things which pertain to the 
unicity of God, and I ask first whether in the realm of beings 
something exists which is actually infinite ? 

[Pro et Contra] 

To prove that no such thing exists the following argu- 
ments are cited 1 : 

[Arg. i], If one of two contraries were actually 
infinite, then nothing contrary to it would exist in nature ; 
therefore if some good were actually infinite, nothing 
evil would exist in the universe. One answer given to 
this objection is that the major is true only of formal 
contraries, and evil is not formally contrary to God . 2 
To the contrary : It makes no difference whether con- 

trariety be virtual or formal. If something is infinite, it 
will not tolerate anything contrary to its effect, since by 
reason of its infinite power, it will destroy anything 
incompatible with its effect. Therefore, the major is just 
as true of virtual contraries as it is of formal contraries. 
For example : if the sun were infinitely hot either 

virtually or formally, in either case it would leave 
nothing cold in the universe. 

[Arg. n] . Again, just as an infinite body would not 
permit the coexistence of another body, even so an 
infinite being would not tolerate the coexistence of any 
other being. Proof of the consequence : Actuality seems 
to be opposed to actuality in the same way as dimension 
is opposed to dimension. Furthermore, if a being other 
than the infinite could exist, it would seem to increase the 
infinite just as to add another body to an infinite body 
would produce something greater than the infinite. 

[Arg. in]. Furthermore, anything present in this 



infinitum respectu ubi ; et quod nunc est ita, quod non 
alias, est finitum respectu quando, et sic de singulis. 
Quod ita agit hoc, quod non aliud, est finitum quantum 
ad actionem ; ergo quod est ita hoc aliquid, quod non 
aliud, est finitum secundum entitatem. Deus est summe 
hoc, quia ex se singularitas ; ergo non est infinitus. 

Item, vm Physicorum * virtus infinita, si esset, moveret 
in non-tempore ; nulla virtus potest movere in non- 
tempore ; quia si sic, motus esset in instanti ; ergo nulla 
est infinita. 

Contra : 

Ibidem Philosophus vm Physicorum f probat primum 
movens esse potentiae infinitae, quia movet motu 
infinito ; sed haec conclusio non potest intelligi tantum 
de infinitate durationis, quia propter infinitatem potentiae 
probat quod non possit esse in magnitudine ; non 
repugnat autem magnitudini, secundum eum, quod in eo 
sit potentia infinita secundum durationem, sicut poneret 
de caelo. 

Item, in Psalmo { : Magnus Dominus et laudabilis 


Item, Damascenus, lib. 1, cap. iv ** : Est pelagus, etc. 

[Corpus Quaestionis] 

Ad primam quaestionem sic procedo, quia de ente 
infinito sic non potest demonstrari esse demonstratione 
propter quid quantum ad nos, licet ex natura terminorum 

* VIII, cap. X (266'’, 24-266*, 6). f loc. cit. (266*, 6). 
t Ps. xlvii. 2 ; cxliv. 3. 

** De fide orthodoxa , 1, cap. ix (Migne, P.G., xciv, 835). 



place in such a way that it is nowhere else, is limited with 
regard to its whereabouts. What exists at just this moment 
and no other, is finite with regard to temporal duration. 
And so on with the single categories. Whatever does 
just this and nothing else, is finite in its action. Therefore, 
whatever is just this thing and no other, is limited in its 
entity. Now God above all is a “this”, for He is singu- 
larity of His very nature. Therefore, God is not infinite. 

[Arg. iv]. Again, according to Physics, bk. viii,* 
if an infinite force existed it would move or act instan- 
taneously ; but no force can move things instantaneously, 
for if it could movement would take place in an instant. 
Consequently, nothing is infinite. 

To the contrary : 

[Arg. 1]. In the same place in Physics, bk. vm,f the 
Philosopher proves that the First Mover is infinite in 
power because He moves with an infinite movement. 
But this conclusion cannot be understood of power that 
is infinite only in duration. The reason why it cannot is 
this. Aristotle proves that because this power [of the First 
Mover] is infinite, it cannot reside in a [finite] magni- 
tude. But it is not contradictory, according to him, that 
a power infinite merely in duration should reside in a 
[finite] magnitude, for he assumes this to be the case 
with the heavens . 3 

[Arg. 11]. Also, in the Book of Psalms % : “Great is the 
Lord and exceedingly to be praised”. 

[Arg. in]. Also, in the fourth chapter of the first 
book of Damascene **: “He is a sea [of infinite per- 


[Body of the Question] 

My reason for proceeding as I do in this first question 
is this. Although the proposition “An infinite being 



propositio est demonstrabilis propter quid. Sed quantum 
ad nos bene propositio est demonstrabilis quia ex crea- 
turis. Proprietates autem infiniti entis relativae ad 
creaturas immediatius se habent ad ilia quae sunt media 
in demonstratione quia quam proprietates absolutae, ita 
quod de illis proprietatibus relativis concludi potest 
immediatius esse per ista quae sunt media in tali de- 
monstratione quam de proprietatibus absolutis ; nam 
immediate ex esse unius relativi sequitur esse sui corre- 
lativi. Ideo, primo declarabo esse de proprietatibus 
relativis entis infiniti, quae sunt primitas et causalitas. 
Et secundo declarabo esse de infinito ente, quia illae 
relativae proprietates soli enti infinito conveniunt. Et 
ita erunt duo articuli principales. 

[Articulus Primus. De Proprietatibus Relativis ] 

Quantum ad primum, dico : proprietates relativae 
entis infiniti ad creaturas aut sunt proprietates causali- 
tatis aut eminentiae. Gausalitatis duplicis, aut efficientis 
aut finis. Quod additur de causa exemplari non est aliud 
genus causae ab efficiente, quia tunc essent quinque 
genera causarum ; unde causa exemplaris est quoddam 
efficiens, quia est agens per intellectum distinctum contra 
agens per naturam ; de quo alias. 

In primo articulo principali, tria principaliter osten- 
dam : primo ergo ostendam quod aliquid est in effectu 
inter entia quod est simpliciter primum omni primitate 
quae non includit aliquam imperfectionem. Pars enim 
est imperfectior toto et tamen prior ; pars enim parti- 
cipat entitatem totius et non est ipsum totum. Aliae 
autem sunt primitates quae non includunt aliquam 


exists” can, by the very nature of its terms, be demon- 
strated by a demonstration of the reasoned fact , 4 we are 
not able to demonstrate it in this way. Nevertheless, we 
can demonstrate the proposition by a demonstration of 
fact beginning with creatures. However, those properties 
of the infinite being which refer to creatures are related 
more closely than the absolute properties to what we 
must use as middle terms in a demonstration of fact, so 
that in virtue of such a demonstration the relative 
properties are established prior to the absolute properties, 
for the existence of one term of the relation implies 
immediately that of its correlative. Consequently, I shall 
show first the existence of such relative properties of the 
infinite being as primacy and causality. Secondly, from 
these I shall show that an infinite being exists, because 
these relative properties pertain exclusively to a being 
that is infinite. And so there will be two principal 

[. Article I. Relative Properties of God ] 

As to the first article, I say that the properties of the 
infinite being which refer to creatures are either of 
causality or of pre-eminence. Those of causality in turn 
are twofold, the properties of efficient and final causality. 
What is added about the exemplar does not involve 
another cause different in kind from the efficient, for 
then there would be five kinds of causes. Wherefore, the 
exemplar cause is a certain kind of efficient cause, namely 
an intelligent agent in contradistinction to a natural 
agent ; but more of this elsewhere . 6 

In the first main article, I shall set forth three principal 
points : first, in the realm of beings something actually 
exists which is simply first by every primacy that includes 
no imperfection. For a part, though prior to, is less 
perfect than, the whole, since the part shares in the unity 
of the whole and yet is not the whole itself. Other 

(2,322 J 7 



imperfectionem ; ut primitas eminentiae et triplicis 
causalis independentiae ; scilicet efficientis, formalis vel 
exemplaris, et finalis. Primitas autem eminentiae non 
est primitas causalitatis ; non enim ex hoc quod unum 
ens praeeminet alteri est causa illius, nam primum et 
summum in quolibet genere praeeminet alteri posteriori 
in illo genere, et tamen non est causa illius. Primitas 
etiam exemplaris non distinguitur a primitate efficientiae, 
quia principium exemplans alia in esse intelligibili non 
est nisi principium efficiens per intellectum ; sicut enim 
naturale efficiens non distinguit efficiens sed continetur 
sub eo, sic nec exemplaris distinguitur ab efficiente. Sunt 
ergo duae causalitates contra se distinctae, scilicet causae 
efficientis et finalis. Et omnes illae primitates quas 
attribuimus Deo, nullam imperfectionem includunt. 
Unde primo ostendam quod est aliquid in effectu inter 
entia simpliciter primum secundum efficientiam et 
aliquid est quod etiam est simpliciter primum secundum 
rationem finis, et aliquid quod est simpliciter primum 
secundum eminentiam. Secundo ostendo quod illud 
quod est primum secundum unam rationem primitatis, 
idem est primum secundum alias primitates. Et tertio 
ostendo quod ilia triplex primitas uni soli naturae con- 
venit, ita quod non pluribus naturis differentibus specie 
vel quidditative. Et ita in primo articulo principali erunt 
tres articuli partiales. 

[ Pars Prima. De Triplici Primitate ]. Primus articulus 
illorum includit tres conclusiones principales per triplicem 
primitatem. Quaelibet autem illarum trium conclu- 
sionum habet tres ex quibus dependet. Prima est quod 
aliquid sit primum. Secunda est quod illud est incausa- 
bile. Tertia est quod illud actu existit in entibus. Itaque 
in primo articulo sunt novem conclusiones, sed tres 


primacies, however, include no imperfection. Such is 
the primacy of pre-eminence and of independence in 
regard to the three kinds of causes, viz. efficient, formal 
or exemplar, and final. The primacy of pre-eminence, 
however, is not a primacy of causality. For just because 
one thing is more perfect than another, it does not follow 
that the former is the cause of the latter ; for the first 
and most perfect in any given genus is more perfect than 
any other of its kind and yet is not the cause of the others. 6 
Neither is the primacy of exemplarity to be differentiated 
from that of efficiency, for the principle which copies what 
exists in thought is nothing else than an intelligent 
efficient cause. For just as a natural efficient cause 7 is 
not considered as distinct from efficient cause but rather 
as a subdivision thereof, so also the exemplar cause. 
Consequently, we have but two causalities distinct from 
one another, that of the efficient cause and that of the 
final cause. And none of these primacies which we attri- 
bute to God include any imperfection. Wherefore, I 
shall show that in the realm of beings something indeed 
exists which is simply first according to efficiency, and 
also that something exists which is simply first in the 
order of ends, and that something exists which is simply 
first by reason of pre-eminence. Secondly, I shall show 
that what is first in virtue of one kind of primacy is 
also first in virtue of the others. And thirdly, I shall 
show that this triple primacy pertains to but one nature, 
so as not to be found in several specifically or essentially 
different natures. This first article, then, will contain 
three subordinate parts. 

[Part I. The Triple Primacy ]. This first part com- 
prises three principal conclusions corresponding respec- 
tively to the threefold primacy. Each of these three 
conclusions in turn depends upon three others : (i) 

Something is first, (2) It cannot be caused, (3) It actually 
exists in the realm of beings. And so the first part con- 
tains nine conclusions, three of which are principal. 



[a. De Primitate Efficientis ]. Prima autem conclusio 
istarum novem est ista, quod aliquod effectivum sit 
simpliciter primum, ita quod nec sit effectibile nec 
virtute alterius a se effectivum. Probatio : quia aliquod 
ens est effectibile ; aut ergo a se aut a nihilo vel ab 
aliquo alio. Non a nihilo, quia nullius est causa illud 
quod nihil est. Nec a se, quia nulla res est quae seipsam 
faciat vel gignat, i De Trinitate.* Ergo ab alio. Illud 
aliud sit A. Si est A primum hoc modo exposito, pro- 
positum habeo. Si non est primum, ergo est posterius 
effectivum, quia effectibile ab alio vel a virtute alterius 
effec[ti]vum, quia si negetur negatio, ponitur affirmatio. 
Detur illud alterum et sit B de quo arguitur sicut de A 
argutum est. Et ita aut proceditur in infinitum quorum 
quodlibet respectu prioris erit secundum ; aut statur ir 
aliquo non habente prius. Infinitas autem impossibili: 
est in ascendendo. Ergo, primitas necessaria, quia non 
habens prius, nullo priore se est posterius, nam circulum 
in causis esse est inconveniens. 

Contra istam rationem sic instatur primo quod petat 
stare in causis ; secundo quod procedit ex contingentibus 
et ita non fit demonstratio. Secundum probatur, quia 
praemissae accipiunt esse de aliquo causato et omne 
causatum contingenter est. Similiter, procedit ex 
contingentibus quia ex rationibus productis et producti 
qui tantum sunt termini contingentes. Primum con- 
firmatur per hoc quod secundum philosophantes infinitas 
est ascendendo, sicut ponunt exemplum de generationi- 
bus infinitis, quorum nullum est primum sed quodlibet 

* De Trinitate , i, cap. i (Migne, P.L., xlii, 820). 


[a. The Primacy of Efficient Causality] . Now the first 
of these nine conclusions is this : Among beings which can 
produce an effect one is simply first , in the sense that it neither 
can be produced by an efficient cause nor does it exercise 
its efficient causality in virtue of anything other than 
itself. Proof : Some being can be produced. Therefore, 
it is either produced by itself or by nothing or by some- 
thing other than itself. Now it cannot be produced by 
nothing, for what is nothing causes nothing. Neither 
can it be produced by itself, for as Augustine points out 
in his work De Trinitate, bk. i,* nothing ever makes itself 
or begets itself. Therefore it can only be produced by 
another. Now let this other be called A. If A is first 
in the way we have described, then I have what I seek 
to prove. But if it is not first, then it is some posterior 
agent — either because it can be produced by something 
else or because it is able to produce its effect only in 
virtue of something other than itself. To deny the 
negation is to assert the affirmation. Let us assume that 
this being is not first and call it B. Then we can argue 
of B as we did of A. And so we shall either go on ad 
infinitum so that each thing in reference to what precedes it 
in the series will be second ; or we shall reach something 
that has nothing prior to it. However, an infinity in the 
ascending order 8 is impossible ; hence a primacy is neces- 
sary because whatever has nothing prior to itself is pos- 
terior to nothing prior, for a circle in causes is inadmissible. 

Against this argument, it is objected, first, that the 
argument assumes an end in the series of causes ; 
secondly, that it begins with contingent propositions and 
hence is not a demonstration. This second objection is 
argued in this way. The premises assume the existence 
of something that has been caused, and everything caused 
exists contingently. The first objection is confirmed from 
the admission of those who philosophise that an infinity 
is possible in an ascending order, as for instance, when 
they assume infinite generations, where no single one is 



secundum, quia secundum eos, non est inconveniens 
procedere in infinitum in productionibus ejusdem rationis 
ubi nullum est primum sed quodlibet secundum, et 
tamen hoc ab eis sine circulo ponitur. 

Ad primam instantiam primo excludendam dico quod 
philosophi non posuerunt infinitatem possibilem in causis 
essentialiter ordinatis, sed tantum in accidentaliter 
ordinatis, sicut patet per Avicennam sexto Metaphysicae , 
cap. v, ubi loquitur de infinitate individuorum in specie. 
Et ad propositum melius ostendendum sciendum quae 
sunt causae essentialiter et accidentaliter ordinatae, ubi 
notandum quod aliud est loqui de causis per se et per 
accidens ; et aliud est loqui de causis per se sive essen- 
tialiter et accidentialiter ordinatis, nam in prima est 
tantum operatio unius ad unum, scilicet causae ad causa- 
tum, et est causa per se quae secundum naturam pro- 
priam, et non secundum aliquid sibi accidens, causat ut 
subjectum est causa per se respectu suae propriae passionis 
et in aliis ut album disgregat et aedificator aedificat ; 
sed causa per accidens econverso ut Polycletus aedificat. 
In secundo est comparatio duarum causarum inter se in 
quantum ab eis est causatum. 

Et differunt causae per se sive essentialiter ordinatae 
a causis per accidens sive accidentaliter ordinatis in 
tribus. Prima differentia est, quod in per se ordinatis 
secunda in quantum causa dependet a prima ; in per 
accidens non, licet in esse vel aliquo modo alio dependeat. 
Filius enim licet secundum esse dependeat a patre, non 


first but each is second to some other. For they find 
nothing inconvenient about proceeding to infinity with 
productions of the same kind, where nothing is first and 
every member [of the series] is second [to some other 
member] . And still they assume no circle in causes. 

To exclude this first objection, I say that the philos- 
ophers do not assume the possibility of an infinity in 
causes essentially ordered, but only in causes accidentally 
ordered, as is evident from Avicenna’s Metaphysics , 
bk. vi, c. v, where he speaks of an infinity of individuals 
in a species. To understand better what we have in 
mind, one should know that some causes are essentially 
ordered and others accidentally ordered. Here it should 
be noted that it is one thing to speak of incidental causes 
(1 causae per accidens) as contrasted with those which are 
intended by their nature to produce a given effect ( causae 
per se). It is quite another to speak of causes which are 
ordered to one another essentially or of themselves ( per se) 
and those which are ordered only accidentally ( per 
accidens ). For in the first instance we have merely a 
comparison one-to-one, namely of the cause to that 
which is caused. A per se cause is one which causes 
a given effect by reason of its very nature and not by 
reason of something incidental to it. For instance, the sub- 
ject is a per se cause of its proper attributes. Other such 
instance's are “white dilating” 9 or “a builder build- 
ing”. On the contrary, “Polycletus building” would be an 
incidental cause . 10 In the second instance, two causes are 
compared with each other in so far as they are causes of 
the same thing. 

Per se or essentially ordered causes differ from acciden- 
tally ordered causes in three respects. The first difference 
is that in essentially ordered causes, the second depends 
upon the first precisely in its act of causation. In acciden- 
tally ordered causes this is not the case, although the 
second may depend upon the first for its existence or in 
some other way. Thus a son depends upon his father for 


4 1 

tamen in causando, quia patre mortuo potest agere sicut 
ipso vivo. Differentia secunda est, quod in per se 
ordinatis est causalitas alterius rationis et alterius 
ordinis, quia superior est perfectior ; in accidentaliter 
autem ordinatis non. Et differentia haec sumitur ex 
prima ; nam nulla causa a causa ejusdem rationis de- 
pendet essentialiter in causando, quia in causatione alicu- 
jus sufficit unum unius rationis. Tertia est, quod omnes 
causae essentialiter et per se ordinatae simul necessario 
requiruntur ad causandum, alioquin aliqua causalitas 
essentialis et per se deesset effectui ; in accidentaliter 
autem ordinatis non est sic, quia non requiritur simultas 
eorum in causando, quia quaelibet habet suam perfectam 
causalitatem sine alia respectu sui effectus. Sufficit enim 
quod successive causet una post aliam. 

Ex his ostenditur propositum, scilicet quod infinitas 
essentialiter ordinatorum est impossibilis. Similiter 
secunda infinitas accidentaliter ordinatorum est im- 
possibilis, nisi ponatur status in ordinatis essentialiter. 
Ergo omni modo est impossibilis infinitas in essentialiter 
ordinatis. Si etiam negetur ordo essentialis, adhuc 
infinitas est impossibilis. Ergo omni modo est aliquod 
primum necessario et simpliciter effectivum. Istarum 
trium propositionum assumptarum, propter brevitatem, 
prima dicatur A, secunda B, tertia C. 

Probatio illarum, primo A, scilicet quod essentialiter 
ordinatorum infinitas est impossibilis. Probo turn quia 
in causis essentialiter ordinatis ubi ponit adversarius 
infinitatem secunda in quantum causat, dependet a 
prima, ex prima differentia. Si igitur essent causae 


existence but is not dependent upon him in exercising 
his own causality, since he can act just as well whether 
his father be living or dead. The second difference is 
that in essentially ordered causes the causality is of 
another nature and order, inasmuch as the higher cause 
is more perfect. Such is not the case, however, with 
accidentally ordered causes. This second difference is a 
consequence of the first, since no cause in the exercise of 
its causality is essentially dependent upon a cause of the 
same nature as itself, for to produce anything one cause 
of a given kind suffices. The third difference is that all 
per se and essentially ordered causes are simultaneously 
required to cause the effect, for otherwise some causality 
essential to the effect would be wanting. In accidentally 
ordered causes this is not so, because there is no need of 
simultaneity in causing inasmuch as each possesses 
independently of the others the perfection of causality 
with regard to its own effect. For it is enough that one 
cause after the other exercises causality successively. 

From all this we propose to show that an infinity of 
essentially ordered causes is impossible ; secondly, that 
an infinity of accidentally ordered causes is also impossible 
unless we admit a terminus in an essentially ordered 
series ; therefore an infinity in essentially ordered causes 
is impossible in any case ; thirdly, even if we deny the 
existence of an essential order, an infinity of causes is still 
impossible. Consequently, in every instance, of necessity 
some first being able to cause exists. For the sake of 
brevity, let us call the first of these three assumptions A, 
the second B and the third C. 

Proof of the first of these propositions, A (namely that 
an infinity of essentially ordered causes is impossible) : I 
prove this first, because in essentially ordered causes 
where our opponent assumes an infinity, the second of 
the series depends upon the first. This is a consequence 
of the first difference between essentially and accidentally 
ordered causes. Now if these causes were infinite so 



infinitae ita quod non solum quaelibet posterior sed 
quaelibet alia dependet a sua causa proxima prior, ergo 
universitas causatorum est ab aliqua causa priori. Non 
ab aliqua causa quae est aliquid totius universitatis, 
quia tunc esset causa sui. Tota enim universitas depen- 
det et a nullo illius universitatis et hoc voco primum 
efficiens. Si igitur sunt infinitae, adhuc dependent ab 
aliqua quae non est illius universitatis. 

Turn quia si causae infinitae ordinatae essentialiter 
concurrant ad productionem alicujus effectus ; et ex 
tertia differentia omnes causae essentialiter ordinatae 
sunt simul, sequitur quod infinita sunt simul ad causan- 
dum hunc effectum, quod nullus philosophus ponit. 

Turn tertio, quia prius est principio propinquius, 
quinto Metaphysicae.* Ergo ubi nullum [MS' unum] 
principium nihil essentialiter prius. 

Turn quarto, quia superior causa est perfectior in 
causando ex secunda differentia ; ergo in infinitum 
superior est in infinitum perfectior ; ergo [MS in] infinitae 
perfectionis. Et nulla tabs est causans de virtute alterius 
quia quaelibet talis est imperfecte causans, quia est 
dependens incausando ab alia. 

Turn quinto, quia effectivum nullam imperfectionem 
ponit necessario ; ergo potest esse in aliquo sine imper- 
fectione, quia quod nihil imperfectionis includit potest 
poni inter entia sine imperfectione ; sed si nulla causa 
est sine dependentia ad prius, in nullo est sine imper- 
fectione ; ergo effectibilitas independens potest inesse 
alicui naturae, et ilia simpliciter est prima. Ergo 
effectibilitas simpliciter prima est possibilis. Hoc 

* v, cap. xi (1018 s , 9-1 1) 


that not only would each single cause be posterior to 
something but every other cause which precedes it would 
be dependent in turn upon the cause that goes before it, 
then whole series of effects would be dependent upon 
some prior cause. Now the latter cannot he a cause that 
is part of the series, for then it would be its own cause. 
The series as a whole, then, is dependent on something 
which does not pertain to the group that is caused, and 
this I call the first efficient cause. Even if the group of 
beings caused were infinite, they would still depend upon 
something outside the group. 

Then, too, if an infinite number of essentially ordered 
causes concurred to produce some effect, it would follow 
that an infinite number would simultaneously cause this 
effect, for it follows from the third difference that 
essentially ordered causes must exist simultaneously. 
Now no philosopher assumes this. 

Then, thirdly, to be prior, a thing must be nearer to 
the beginning . 11 * Consequently, where there is no begin- 
ning, nothing can be essentially prior to anything else. 

Then, fourthly, by reason of the second difference, the 
higher cause is more perfect in its causality, therefore 
what is infinitely higher is infinitely more perfect, and 
hence of infinite perfection. Now nothing infinitely 
perfect can cause something only in virtue of another, 
because everything of this kind is imperfect in its causality 
since it depends on another in order to cause its effect. 

Then, fifthly, inasmuch as to be able to produce some- 
thing does not imply any imperfection, it follows that 
this ability can exist in something without imperfection, 
because that which implies no imperfection can be 
asserted of beings without imperfection. But if every 
cause depends upon some prior cause, then efficiency is 
never found without imperfection. Hence an indepen- 
dent power to produce something can exist in some 
nature, and this nature is simply first. Therefore, such 
an efficient power is possible, and this suffices, for later 



sufficit, quia inferius ex hoc concluditur quia tale efficiens 
primum, si est possibile, est in re. Et sic quinque 
rationibus patet A. 

B probatur, scilicet quod infinitas in accidentaliter 
ordinatis sit impossibilis, nisi ponatur status essentialiter 
ordinatorum, quia infinitas accidentalis, si ponitur, hoc 
non est simul, patet, sed successive tantum, ut alterum 
post alterum, ita quod secundum aliquo modo fluit a 
priore, non tamen dependet ab ipso in causando. Potest 
enim causare, illo non existente, sicut illo existente ; 
sicut filius generat, patre mortuo sicut ipso vivo. Tabs 
infinitas successionis est impossibilis, nisi ab aliqua 
natura infinite durante, a qua tota successio et quidlibet 
ejus dependeat ; nulla enim difformitas perpetuatur, nisi 
in virtute alicujus permanentis quod nihil est illius 
successionis, quia omnia successiva illius successionis sunt 
ejusdem rationis, et quia nulla pars successionis potest 
permanere cum tota successione eo quod tunc non 
esset pars ejus. Sed est aliquid prius essentialiter, quia 
quidlibet successionis dependet ab ipso, et hoc in alia 
ordinatione quam a causa proxima, quia est aliquid 
illius successionis. Omne igitur quod dependet a causa 
accidentaliter ordinata, dependet essentialius a causa 
per se et essentialiter ordinata. Imo negato ordine 
essentiali negabitur ordo accidentalis quia accidentia 
non habent ordinem nisi mediante fixo et permanente, 
nec per consequens habet multitudinem in infinitum. 
Patet ergo B. 

Probatur etiam G, quod scilicet si negetur ordo 
essentialis, adhuc infinitas est impossibilis. Probo : 


we shall prove that if such a first efficient cause is possible, 
then it exists in reality. And so A becomes evident from 
these five arguments. 

Now B (namely, that an infinity of accidentally ordered 
causes is impossible unless we admit that the essentially 
ordered series has an end) is proved in this way. If we 
assume an infinity of accidentally ordered causes, it is 
clear that these causes do not exist simultaneously but 
only successively, one after the other, so that what 
follows flows in some way from what precedes. Still the 
succeeding cause does not depend upon the preceding 
for the exercise of its causality, for it is equally effective 
whether the preceding cause exists or not. A son in turn 
may beget a child just as well whether his father be dead or 
alive. But an infinite succession of such causes is impos- 
sible unless it exists in virtue of some nature of infinite 
duration from which the whole succession and every part 
thereof depends. For no change of form is perpetuated 
save in virtue of something permanent which is not a 
part of the succession. And the reason for this is that 
everything of this succession which is in flux, is of the 
same nature and no part thereof can be coexistent with 
the entire series for the simple reason that it would no 
longer be a part of the latter. Something essentially prior 
to the series then exists, for everything that is part of the 
succession depends upon it, and this dependence is of a 
different order from that by which it depends upon the 
immediately preceding cause where the latter is a part of 
the succession. Therefore, whatever depends upon an 
accidentally ordered cause depends more essentially upon 
an essentially ordered cause. Indeed, to deny the essen- 
tial order is to deny the accidental order also, since 
accidents do not have any order save in virtue of what 
is fixed and permanent. Consequently, neither will an 
infinite multitude exist. B, then, is evident. 

Proposition C (namely that if an essential order is 
denied, an infinity is still impossible), also is proved. 



quia cum ex prima ratione hie adducta, scilicet quod a 
nullo nihil potest esse, sequatur quod aliqua natura sit 
effectiva. Si negatur ordo essentialis activorum, ergo ilia 
in nullius alterius virtute causat, et licet ipsa in aliquo 
singulari ponatur causata, tamen in aliquo est non 
causata, quod est propositum de natura vel si in quolibet 
ponatur causata, statim implicatur contradictio negando 
ordinem essentialem, quia nulla natura potest poni in 
quolibet causata, ita quod sit ordo accidentalis sub ipsa 
sine ordine essentiali ad aliam naturam [sicut patet ex B]. 

Ad secundam instantiam supra positam, quae dicit 
quod ratio procedit ex contingentibus et ita non est 
demonstratio, cum dico aliqua natura vere est effecta, 
ergo aliquid est efficiens, respondeo quod posset sic argui : 
aliqua natura est effecta quod aliquod subjectum muta- 
tur, et ita terminus mutationis incipit esse in subjecto, et 
ita ille terminus vel compositum producitur sive efficitur ; 
ergo est aliquod efficiens, per naturam correlativorum ; 
et tunc potest esse secundum veritatem prima contingens, 
sed manifesta. Potest tamen sic argui probando primam 
conclusionem sic. Haec est vera : aliqua natura est 

effectibilis ; ergo aliqua est effectiva. Antecedens pro- 
batur : quia aliquod subjectum est mutabile, quia aliquod 
entium est possibile, definiendo possibile contra neces- 
sarium ; et sic procedendo ex necessariis. Et tunc 
probatio primae conclusionis est de esse quidditative sive, 


Proof : From the first reason adduced here, viz. that 

nothing can come from nothing, it follows that some 
nature is capable of causing effectively. Now, if an 
essential order of agents be denied, then this nature 
capable of causing does not cause in virtue of some other 
cause, and even if we assume that in one individual it is 
caused, nevertheless in some other it will not be caused, 
and this is what we propose to prove to be true of this 
nature. For if we assume that in every individual this 
nature is caused, then a contradiction follows immediately 
if we deny the existence of an essential order, since no 
nature that is caused can be assumed to exist in each 
individual in such a way that it is included in an acci- 
dental order of causes without being at the same time 
essentially ordered to some other nature. This follows 
from proposition B. 

Then we come to the second objection cited above , 12 
namely that when I argue : “Some nature is capable of 
producing an effect, therefore something is an efficient 
cause”, the argument is not a demonstration, since it 
proceeds from contingent propositions. I reply that I 
could indeed argue that some nature is produced because 
some subject undergoes a change and therefore the term 
of the change comes into existence in the subject, and 
consequently this term or the composite [i.e. the subject 
and term] are produced or effected. Hence by the 
nature of the correlatives, some efficient cause exists. 
Formulated in this fashion, this first argument would be 
based upon a contingent but manifest proposition. 
However, to prove our conclusion the argument can be 
reformulated in such a way that it proceeds from necessary 
premises. Thus it is true that some nature is able to be 
produced, therefore something is able to produce an 
effect. The antecedent is proved from the fact that 
something can be changed, for something is possible 
(“possible” being defined as contrary to “necessary”). 
In this case, the proof for the first conclusion proceeds 



de esse possibili, non autem de existentia actuali. Sed 
de quo nunc ostenditur possibilitas ultra in conclusione 
tertia ostendetur actualis existentia. 

Secunda conclusio de primo effectivo est ilia quod 
simpliciter primum effectivum est incausabile. Hoc 
probatur, quia est ineffectibile independens effectivum. 
Hoc patet prius, quia si sit virtute alterius causativum, 
vel ab alio effectibile, ergo vel processus in infinitum, 
vel circulus, vel status in aliquo [in]effectibili indepen- 
dente effective ; illud dico primum, et aliud patet quod 
non est primum ex datis tuis. Ergo ulterius concluditur, 
si illud primum est ineffectibile, ergo incausabile, quia 
non est finibile, nec materiabile, nec formabile. Probatur 
consequentia prima, scilicet quod si est ineffectibile, ergo 
est infinibile quia causa finalis non causat nisi quia 
causa movet metaphorice ipsum efficiens ad efficiendum ; 
nam alio modo non dependet entitas finiti ab ipso ut a 
priori. Nihil autem est causa per se nisi ut ab ipso 
tamquam a priore essentialiter dependet causatum. 
Duae autem aliae consequentiae, scilicet quod si est 
ineffectibile, ergo est immateriabile et informabile, 
probantur simul ; quia cujus non est causa extrinseca, 
nec intrinseca ; quia causalitas causae extrinsecae dicit 
perfectionem sine imperfectione. Causalitas vero causae 
intrinsecae necessario dicit imperfectionem annexam, 
quia causa intrinseca est pars causati. Igitur ratio causae 


from what the thing is or from its possible existence, but 
not from its actual existence. The actual existence of 
this being which up to now we have shown to be merely 
possible, however, will be established in the third con- 

The second conclusion about the first possible efficient 
cause is this. Among those things which can produce an effect 
that which is simply first is itself incapable of being caused. 
Proof : Such a being cannot be produced and is inde- 
pendently able to produce an effect. This was proved 
above, for if such a being could cause only in virtue of 
something else or if it could be produced, then either a 
process ad infinitum or a circle in causes would result, or 
else the series would terminate in some being which 
cannot be produced and yet independently is able to 
produce an effect. This being I call “first”, and from 
what you grant, it is clear that anything other than this 
is not first. Therefore, the further conclusion follows 
that if such a being cannot be produced, it has no causes 
whatsoever, for it cannot be the result of a final, material 
or formal cause. Proof of the first consequence, viz. that 
if such a being cannot be produced, neither can it have 
any final cause. A final cause does not cause at all unless 
in a metaphorical sense it moves the efficient cause to 
produce the effect. Only in this way does the entity of 
what exists for the sake of an end depend on the end as 
prior. Nothing, however, is a per se cause unless the 
thing caused depends upon it essentially as upon some- 
thing prior. Now the other two consequences are proved 
simultaneously. If something cannot be produced, then 
it can be the result neither of a material nor of a formal 
cause. The reason is this. If something has no extrinsic 
cause, neither does it have an intrinsic cause, for while 
to be an extrinsic cause does not imply imperfection but 
perfection, to be an intrinsic cause necessarily includes 
some imperfection since the intrinsic cause is a part of 
the thing it causes. For this reason, the very notion of 

( 2 , 322 ) 8 



extrinsecae est naturaliter prior ratione causae intrin- 
secae ; negato igitur priori, et negatur et posterius. 

Probantur etiam eaedem consequentiae, quia causae 
intrinsecae sunt causatae ab extrinsecis vel secundum 
esse earum vel in quantum causant compositum vel 
utroque modo, quia causae intrinsecae non seipsis sine 
agente constituunt compositum. Ex istis dictis satis 
patet conclusio secunda. 

Tertia conclusio de primo effectivo est ista : primum 
effectivum est in actu existens, et aliqua natura vere 
existens actualiter sic est effectiva. Probatio istius : 
Cujus rationi repugnat esse ab alio, illud si potest esse, 
potest esse a se ; sed rationi primi effectivi simpliciter 
repugnat esse ab alio, sicut patet ex secunda conclusione. 
Similiter etiam ipsum potest esse, sicut patet ex prima 
ubi posita est quinta probatio ad A, quae minus videtur 
concludere et tamen hoc concludit. Aliae autem pro- 
bationes ipsius A possunt tractari de existentia quam 
proponit haec tertia conclusio, et sunt de contingenti- 
bus, tamen manifestis : vel accipitur A de natura et 
quidditate et possibilitate, et sunt ex necessariis. Ergo 
effectivum simpliciter primum potest esse ex se ; quod 
non est a se, non potest esse a se quia tunc non ens pro- 
duceret aliquid ad esse, quod est impossibile, et adhuc 
tunc illud causaret se, et ita non esset incausabile 

Illud ultimum, scilicet de existentia primi effectivi 


an extrinsic cause has a natural priority over that of 
intrinsic cause ; to deny what is prior is to deny also 
what is posterior. 

Another way of proving these same consequences is 
this. Intrinsic causes are caused by extrinsic causes 
either in their very being or in so far as they cause the 
composite, or in both of these ways, for the intrinsic causes 
of themselves and without the intervention of some agent 
cannot constitute the composite. This suffices to make 
the second conclusion evident. 

The third conclusion about this being capable of exercis- 
ing efficient causality is this. Such a being actually exists 
and some nature actually existing is capable of such causality. 
Proof : Anything to whose nature it is repugnant to 
receive existence from something else, exists of itself if it 
is able to exist at all. To receive existence from some- 
thing else, however, is repugnant to the very notion of a 
being which is first in the order of efficiency, as is clear 
from the second conclusion. That it can exist, is also 
clear from the first conclusion [namely A], where the 
fifth argument, which seems to be less conclusive than 
the others, establishes this much at least . 13 However, 
the other proofs of proposition A can also be used to 
establish the existence of this being as proposed by this 
third conclusion, but in this case they are based on con- 
tingent though manifest propositions. If A, however, is 
understood of the nature, the quiddity and the possibility, 
then the conclusions proceed from necessary premises. 
From all this it follows that an efficient cause which is 
first in the unqualified sense of the term can exist of itself. 
Consequently, it does exist of itself, for what does not 
actually exist of itself, is incapable of existing of itself. 
Otherwise a non-existent being would cause something 
to exist ; but this is impossible, even apart from the fact 
that in such a case the thing would be its own cause and 
hence could not be entirely uncaused. 

Another way to establish this last conclusion, viz. the 



aliter declarator, quia inconveniens est universo deesse 
supremum gradum possibilem in essendo. 

Juxta tres conclusiones ostensas de effectivo primo, 
nota corollarium quoddam quod quasi continet tres 
conclusiones probatas, quod, scilicet primum effectivum 
non tantum est prius aliis, sed eo prius aliud esse includit 
contradictionem. Sic in quantum primum, existit, pro- 
batur ut praecedens ; nam in ratione talis primi maxime 
includitur incausabile, probatur ex secunda ; ergo si 
potest esse, quia non contradicit entitati, ut probatur 
ex prima, sequitur quod potest esse a se, et ita est a se. 

[b. De Primitate Finalitatis]. Juxta tres conclusiones 
primas de causa effectiva, propono tres conclusiones 
similes de causa finali. Aliquod finitivum est simpliciter 
primum, hoc est nec ad aliud ordinabile nee in virtute 
alterius natum finire alia. Et probatur quinque proba- 
tionibus similibus illis quae ponebantur ad primum 
conclusionem de primo effectivo. 

Secunda est quod primum finitivum est incausabile. 
Probatur, quia infinibile, alias non primum, et ultra, 
ergo ineffectibile. Haec consequentia probatur, quia 
omne per se agens agit propter finem, ex secundo 
Physicorum,* ubi etiam hoc vult Philosophus de natura, 
de qua minus videtur quam de agente a proposito. Sed 
cujus non est aliquod per se efficiens, illud non est 
effectibile, quia in nullo genere potest per accidens esse 
primum, sicut patet in proposito specialiter de causis 

ii, cap. v (i960, 17-22). 


existence of this first efficient cause, would be to argue 
from the impropriety of a universe that would lack the 
highest possible degree of being. 

A kind of corollary contained, as it were, in these three 
conclusions concerning the first being able to exercise 
efficient causality, is the following. Not only is such a 
cause prior to all the others, but it would be contradictory 
to say that another is prior to it. And, in so far as such 
a cause is first, it exists. This is proved in the same way 
as the preceding. The very notjon of such a being implies 
its inability to be caused (which is proved from the second 
conclusion). Therefore, if it can exist, owing to the fact 
that to be is not contradictory to it (as the first conclusion 
proves), then it follows that it can exist of itself, and 
consequently that it does exist of itself. 

\b. The Primacy of Finality ]. Concerning the final 

cause, I propose three conclusions similar to the first 
three conclusions about the being which is able to 
produce something. The first conclusion is that some end is 
simply ultimate , that is, it can neither be ordained to some- 
thing else nor exercise its finality in virtue of something 
else. This is proved by five arguments similar to those 
advanced for the first conclusion concerning the possi- 
bility of a first efficient cause. 

The second conclusion is that the ultimate end cannot be 
caused in any way. This is proved from the fact that it 
cannot be ordained for another end ; otherwise it would 
not be ultimate. It follows in addition that it cannot be 
caused by an efficient cause. This latter consequence is 
proved from the fact that every agent per se acts for the 
sake of an end as is said in Physics , bk. ii,* where the 
Philosopher understands this proposition to hold also of 
“nature” where it seems to apply less than in the case 
of an agent who acts according to purpose . 14 Now a 
thing cannot be produced if no per se efficient cause of it 
exists, for the first of any given kind of cause is never an 
incidental cause ( causa per accidens) . This is clear from 



agentibus per accidens, quae sunt casus et fortuna quae 
secundum Aristotelem, secundo Physicorum* reducuntur 
necessario ad causas per se agentes ut priores, scilicet 
ad naturam et intellectum ut propositum ; cujus igitur 
non est aliquid per se agens ejus nullum erit agens, 
sed cujus non est finis, ejus non est aliquod per se 
agens ; ergo ipsum erit inefifectibile ; nam finibile ex- 
cellitur a fine in bonitate et per consequens in perfectione. 
Et ultra, ut supra ostensum est de causa effectiva 

Tertia conclusio est, quod primum finitivum est actu 
existens, et alicui naturae actu existenti convenit ilia 
primitas. Probatur ut prima via de efficientia. 

Sequitur quod primum est ita primum, quod impossi- 
bile est aliud prius esse. Et probatur ut corollarium in 
via priori. 

\c. De Primitate Eminentiae ] . Conclusionibus tribus de 
utroque ordine causalitatis extrinsecae jam positis, pro- 
pono tres similes de ordine eminentiae. Aliqua natura 
eminens est simpliciter prima secundum perfectionem. 
Hoc patet quia inter essentias ordo essentialis, quia secun- 
dum Aristotelem, formae se habent sicut numeri, octavo 
Metaphysicae : f In hoc ordine statur. Quod probatur 
illis quinque rationibus quae de statu in effectivis sunt 

Secunda conclusio est quod suprema natura est in- 
causabilis. Probatur, quia est infinibilis, ex praece- 
dentibus [nam finibile excellitur a fine in bonitate et per 
consequens in perfectione] . Ergo inefiectibilis. Et ultra, 

* 11, cap. vi (198°, 5-13). 

t viii, cap. iii (1043*, 33). 


what is said in particular of incidental causes, which are 
chance and fortune. These, according to Aristotle in 
Physics , bk. 11,* must be reduced respectively to the prior 
causes of “nature” and “intellect” as purpose, neither 
of which are incidental causes. Hence, whatever has no 
per se efficient cause has no efficient cause whatsoever. 
But whatever has no end, also has no per se efficient 
cause. Therefore, it will not be something that could 
be produced, for whatever could be the result of a final 
cause will be surpassed in goodness, and consequently 
in perfection, by the end. Further, as has been shown 
above of the first potential efficient cause [such a being 
will have no material or formal cause either]. 

The third conclusion is that the being which can be an ultimate 
end actually exists and that this primacy pertains to some actually 
existing nature. The proof for this is like that used in the 
first way from efficiency . 15 

It follows that such a being is first in the sense that it is 
impossible that anything should be prior to it. This is 
proved in the same fashion as the preceding corollary 
about the efficient cause. 

[c. The Primacy of Pre-eminence\. Having already 
established three conclusions of each of the two orders 
of extrinsic causality, I submit three similar conclusions 
concerning the order of pre-eminence. The first conclusion 
is that some eminent nature is simply first in perfection. This is 
evident because an essential order exists among essences, 
for as Aristotle puts it,f forms are like numbers. And in 
such an order an ultimate nature is to be found. This is 
proved by the five reasons given above for a first being in 
the order of efficient causality. 

The second conclusion is that the supreme nature cannot be 
caused. This is proved from the fact that it cannot be 
ordained to an end, for whatever is ordained to an end 
is surpassed in goodness, and therefore also in perfection, 
by the end. But if it is not ordained to an end, then, it 
cannot be caused by an efficient cause, and consequently 



ergo incausabilis. Illae duae consequentiae sunt pro- 
batae ex secunda conclusione de effectivis. 

Item, quod suprema natura sit ineffectibilis probatur. 
Nam omne effectibile habet aliquam causam essentialiter 
ordinatam, sicut patet ex probatione ipsius B in con- 
clusione prima de primo effectivo. Causa autem 
essentialiter ordinata excellit effectum. [Igitur, si esset 
effectibilis, non esset suprema.] 

Tertia conclusio est quod suprema natura est ali- 
quod actu existens et probatur ex praecedentibus. 
Corollarium : aliquam esse naturam eminentiorem vel 
superiorem ipsa includit contradictionem. Probatur ut 
corollarium de efficiente et fine. 

[ Pars Secunda. De primitatibus ad invicem comparatis ]. 
Quantum ad secundum articulum dico quod primum 
efficiens est ultimus finis. Probatio, quia omne efficiens 
per se agit propter finem et prius efficiens propter finem 
priorem. Ergo primum efficiens propter ultimum finem. 
Sed propter nihil aliud a se principaliter et ultimate agit. 
Ergo, propter se sicut propter finem. Ergo primum 
efficiens est primus finis. Si enim ageret per se propter 
finem alium a se, tunc aliquod esset nobilius primo 
efficiente, quia finis qui est aliquid remotum ab agente 
intendente finem nobilius eo. 

Similiter, primum efficiens est primum eminens. 
Probatur, quia primum efficiens non est univocum res- 
pectu aliarum naturarum effectivarum, sed aequivocum. 
Ergo eminentius et nobilius eis. Ergo primum efficiens 
est eminentissimum. 

[Pars Tertia. De divinae naturae unitate ]. Quantum ad 
tertium articulum dico quod cum sit idem cui inest 


it cannot be caused in any way. These last two con- 
sequences are proved from the second conclusion about 
the efficient cause. 

Another consideration proves that this supreme nature 
cannot be an effect. Everything which can be produced 
has some essentially ordered cause, as is evident from 
the proof of the proposition B in support of the first 
conclusion about the possibility of a first efficient cause. 
Now an essentially ordered cause excels its effect ; there- 
fore, if it could be produced, it would not be supreme. 

The third conclusion is that the supreme nature actually exists, 
and this is proved from what we have said above. 16 
Corollary : It is contradictory that any nature should 

be more excellent or higher than this nature. This is 
proved in the same way as were the corollaries about the 
efficient and final cause. 17 

[Part 11. Interrelation of the Three Primacies ] . Regard- 
ing the second part, I say that the first cause is the ultimate 
end. Proof : Every per se efficient cause acts for the sake 
of an end, and a prior cause acts for a prior end ; there- 
fore, the first cause acts for the sake of the ultimate end. 
Now the first efficient cause does not act primarily or 
ultimately for the sake of anything distinct from itself ; 
hence, it must act for itself as an end ; therefore, the first 
efficient cause is the ultimate end. If it were to act per se 
for the sake of any end other than itself, then something 
would be more noble than the first efficient cause, for if 
the end were anything apart from the agent intending the 
end, it would be more noble than the agent. 

Now the first efficient cause is also the supreme nature. Proof : 
The first efficient cause is not a univocal cause with 
reference to the other efficient causes but rather an equi- 
vocal cause. Such a cause, therefore, is more excellent 
and noble than they. Consequently, the first efficient 
cause is the most excellent. 18 

[Part III. Unity of the Divine Mature], Regarding 
the third part, I say that since this triple primacy is 



triplex primitas, quia cui inest una, insunt et aliae ; et 
etiam est ibi triplex identitas, ita quod primum efficiens 
est tantum unum secundum quidditatem et naturam. 
Ad quod ostendendum ostendo primo quamdam con- 
clusionem praeambulam et secundo principalem con- 
clusionem. Praeambula autem est quod efficiens quod 
est primum hac triplici primitate, est necesse esse ex se. 
Probatio, quia est penitus incausabile ; nam contra- 
dictionem includit aliquod esse prius eo in genere causae 
efficientis vel finis, et per consequens in genere cujus- 
cumque causae ; ergo est omnino incausabile. Ex hoc 
arguo : nihil potest non esse, nisi cui aliquid incom- 
possibile positive vel privative potest esse. Ei autem 
quod est a se et penitus incausabile, non potest aliquid 
esse quod ei sit incompossibile . positive vel privative ; 
ergo etc. Major patet quia nullum ens potest destrui, 
nisi per incompossibile sibi vel positive vel privative. 
Minor probatur, quia illud incompossibile aut potest 
esse a se aut ab alio. Si a se et erit a se. Erit igitur duo 
incompossibilia simul, vel neutrum est, quia utrumque 
destruit esse alterius. Si ab alio, contra : nulla causa 
potest destruere aliquod ens propter repugnantiam sui 
effectus ad illud, nisi suo effectui perfectius et intensius 
esse det quam sit esse illius alterius destructibilis : 
nullius entis ab alio est nobilius esse a causa sua quam 
sit esse necessarium a se, quia omne causatum habet esse 
dependens, sed quod est ex se habet esse independens. 

Ex hoc ultra ad propositum, probatur unitas \_MS 
veritas] naturae primae, quae est principale intentum in 
hoc tertio articulo, quod ostenditur tribus rationibus. 

Primo sic : quia si duae naturae sunt necesse esse, 
aliquibus rationibus propriis realibus distinguuntur ; et 
dicantur A et B. Illae rationes aut sunt formaliter neces- 


found together (for where one is, there also are the others), 
it follows further that this triple identity is such that 
there is but one first efficient cause according to essence and nature . 19 

To show this, I will first establish a preliminary con- 
clusion and only afterwards the principal conclusion. 
Now the preliminary conclusion is this. The efficient cause 
which is first by this triple primacy is of itself necessarily existent. 
Proof : It is completely incapable of being caused, for 
it is contradictory that it should have anything prior to it 
in the order of efficiency or finality, and consequently in 
any causal order. Hence, it is wholly incapable of being 
caused. From this I argue, nothing can be non-existent 
unless something either positively or privatively incom- 
patible with it can exist. Now nothing can be positively 
or privatively incompatible with a being which exists of 
itself and is totally uncaused ; therefore, etc. The major 
is clear, inasmuch as no being can be destroyed except 
by something positively or privatively incompatible with 
it. The minor is proved as follows. What is incompatible 
could exist either of itself or in virtue of some other being. 
If it can exist of itself, then it will exist of itself. Con- 
sequently, two incompatible entities will coexist or rather 
neither will exist because each will destroy the other. 
But can this incompatible entity exist in virtue of another 
being? No, for no cause is able to destroy something by 
reason of an effect incompatible with the thing to be de- 
stroyed unless it is able to give a more perfect and intense 
existence to its effect than that which the thing to be de- 
stroyed possesses. Now the existence which a cause imparts 
to a being is never as perfect as that of a self-existent 
being, lor the existence of what is caused is dependent 
whereas that of the self-existent being is independent. 

Now to proceed to what we primarily intended to prove 
in this third part, the unity of this first nature. 

Three reasons are adduced by way of proof, the first 
of which is this. If two necessary natures existed, some 
reality proper to each would distinguish one from the 


5 1 

sariae, aut non. Si sic, igitur utrumque duabus rationi- 
bus formalibus erit necesse esse, quod est impossibile, 
quia cum neutra illarum rationum per se includat aliam, 
utraque istarum circumscripta, esset necesse esse [MS om. 
per alteram, et ita esset aliquid necesse esse per illud, 
quo circumscripto, non minus esset necesse esse]. Si 
vero per illas rationes quibus distinguuntur neutrum 
sit formaliter necesse esse, igitur illae rationes non sunt 
rationes necessario essendi, et ita neutrum includitur in 
necesse esse, quia quaecumque entitas non est necesse 
esse est de se possibilis ; sed nihil possibile includitur in 
necesse esse. 

Secundo probatur, quia duae naturae eminentissimae 
non possunt esse in universo ; ergo nec duo prima 
effectiva. Probatio antecedentis, quia species se habent 
sicut numeri, ex octavo Metaphysicae* et per consequens 
duae non possunt esse in eodem ordine. Ergo multo 
minus nec duae primae vel duae eminentissimae. 

Hoc etiam patet tertio per rationem de ratione finis, 
quia duo fines ultimi si essent haberent duas coordina- 
tiones entium ad se, ita quod ista entia ad ilia nullum 
ordinem haberent, quia nec ad finem illorum ; nam quae 
ordinantur ad unum finem ultimum non possunt ordinari 
ad alium, quia ejusdem causati duas esse causas totales 
et perfectas in eodem ordine est impossibile ; tunc enim 
aliquid esset in aliquo ordine per se causa, quo non 
posito, nihilominus causatum illud [aeque perfecte esset]. 

vui, cap. iii (10436, 33). 


other. Let us call these real differences A and B. Now 
either A and B are formally necessary or they are not. 
If we assume them to be necessary, then each necessarily 
existing nature will possess two formal reasons for its 
necessary existence, for in addition to A or B, each is 
formally necessary by reason of that part of its nature in 
which it is like the other. Now this is impossible, for 
since neither of the two reasons of itself includes the other, 
if either be excluded, the being would still exist neces- 
sarily in virtue of the other. In such a case the being 
would exist necessarily in virtue of something which, if 
eliminated, would still leave the nature existing as 
necessarily as before. On the other hand, if neither 
nature is formally necessary in virtue of these real differ- 
ences, then the latter are not of the essence of necessary 
existence and consequently neither is included in a 
necessary being. For any entity which is not of itself 
necessary being is only possible being . 20 Nothing merely 
possible, however, is included in what exists necessarily* 

Second proof : Two pre-eminent natures cannot exist 
in one universe ; therefore neither can two beings first 
in the order of efficient causality. Proof of the antecedent : 
Species are like numbers ( Metaphysics , bk. vni) * and hence 
no two occur in the same order. Still less could two be 
first or pre-eminent. 

This is also evident in the third place from the fact 
that this Being has the character of an end. Now if there 
were two ultimate ends, then we should have two separate 
series of co-ordinated beings where the members of one 
group would have no relation to the other inasmuch as 
they are not ordered to the same end. For what is 
ordered to one ultimate end cannot be ordered to another, 
as it is impossible to have two total and perfect causes of 
the same order causing one and the same thing. In such 
a case, something could be a per se cause in a given order, 
although its effect would exist no less perfectly even 
should this cause never have existed. Therefore, things 



Ordinata ergo ad unum finem nullo modo ordinantur 
ad alium, nec per consequens ad ilia quae ordinantur 
ad alium, et ita ex eis non fieret universum. 

Hoc etiam confirmatur in communi, quia nulla duo 
possunt esse terminantia totaliter dependentiam alicujus 
ejusdem, quia tunc illud terminaret dependentiam, quo 
subtracto, non minus terminaretur ilia dependentia, et 
ita non esset dependentia ad illud ; sed ad efficiens et 
eminens et ad finem dependent aliqua [MS alia] essen- 
tialiter. Ergo nullae duae naturae possunt esse primo 
terminantia aliqua [MS alia] entia secundum illam 
triplicem dependentiam. Praecise igitur est aliqua una 
natura terminans entia secundum illam triplicem depen- 
dentiam, et ita habens istam triplicem primitatem. 

[Articulus Secundus. De Proprielalibus Dei Absolutis ] 

Ostenso esse de proprietatibus relativis primi entis, 
ulterius ad ostendendum illius primi infinitatem, et per 
consequens esse de ente infinito, procedo sic : Primo 
ostendo quod primum efficiens est intelligens et volens, 
ita quod sua intelligentia est infinitorum distincte, et quod 
sua essentia est repraesentativa infinitorum, quae quidem 
essentia est sua intelligentia. Et ex hoc secundo conclude- 
tur sua infinitas. Et sic cum triplici primitate ostensa, 
erit quadruplex medium ad ostendendum ejus infini- 
tatem. . . . 

[Pars Prima. De Intellectu et Voluntate Primi Entis']. 
[Conclusio Prima]. Quod autem sit intelligens et volens 
arguo sic : Aliquod agens est per se primum agens, quia 
omni causa per accidens prior est aliqua causa per se, 
secundo Physicorum,* ubi hoc vult de natura de qua 

* II, cap. vi ( i g8 a , 8-9). 


ordered to one end cannot be ordered to another. Neither 
then, can they be ordered to things which in turn are 
ordered to something else. Consequently, they would 
not form one universe [with the latter]. 

This is also confirmed in general because one and the 
same thing cannot be totally dependent upon two things. 
For then it would be dependent upon something which, 
if removed, would still leave the thing in question as 
dependent as before. Hence, the thing would not really 
be dependent upon it at all. Now some things depend 
essentially upon an efficient cause which is also pre- 
eminent and they depend essentially upon an end. They 
cannot, then, be dependent upon two natures in this 
triple way. Consequently, some one nature is the term 
of this triple dependence, and thus enjoys this triple 

[Article II. Absolute Properties of God] 

Having shown the existence of the relative properties 
of the First Being, we go on to prove that this Being pos- 
sesses infinity and, consequently, that an Infinite Being 
exists. I proceed as follows : First I show that the first 

efficient cause is endowed with will and possesses such 
intelligence that this cause understands an infinity of 
distinct things and that its essence, which indeed is its 
intelligence, represents an infinity of things. Secondly, 
I go on from this to infer the infinity of this Being. This 
approach coupled with the triple primacy which we have 
established provides four ways of showing the infinity of 
this Being. . . . 

[Part /. Intellect and Will]. [First Conclusion], I 
argue that this being is intelligent and endowed with will as 
follows : 

Some agent is per se and first, for according to Physics, 
bk. ii,* every incidental cause is preceded by one that is 
not incidental but per se. In this passage the Philosopher 
applies this to nature where it would seem to hold still 



minus videtur. Sed omne agens per se agit propter 
finem. Et ex hoc arguitur dupliciter : Primo sic : 

Omne agens naturale, praecise consideratum ex neces- 
sitate et aeque ageret si ad nullum finem alium ageret, 
sed sit independenter agens ; ergo si non agit nisi 
propter finem, hoc est quia dependet ab agente amante 
finem ; tale est primum efficiens ; ergo etc. 

Item, si primum agens agit propter finem, aut ergo 
finis ille movet primum efficiens ut amatus actu volun- 
tatis, aut ut tantum naturaliter amatus. Si ut amatus 
actu voluntatis, habetur propositum. Si tantum amatus 
naturaliter, hoc est falsum, quia non naturaliter amat 
alium finem a se, ut grave centrum, et materia formam. 
Tunc enim esset aliquo modo ad finem, quia inclinatus 
ad ilium. Si autem tantum naturaliter amat finem qui 
est ipse, hoc nihil est nisi ipsum esse ipsum. Hoc enim 
non est salvare duplicem rationem in ipso. 

Item arguitur quasi confirmando [MS conferendo] 
rationem jam factam sic. Ipsum primum efficiens 
dirigit effectum suum ad finem ; ergo vel naturaliter 
dirigit, vel cognoscendo et amando ilium finem. Non 
naturaliter, quia non cognoscens nihil dirigit nisi in 
virtute cognoscentis : sapientis enim est prima ordinatio, 
primo Metaphysicae* Sed primum efficiens nullius 
alterius virtute dirigit, sicut nec causat ; tunc enim non 
esset primum ; ergo, etc. 

Item, aliquid causatur contingenter ; ergo prima 
causa contingenter causat ; ergo volens causat. Probatio 

* i, cap. ii (982°, 17-18) 


less [than of a deliberate cause]. Now every per se agent 
acts for the sake of an end. From this I draw a double 
argument : First, that every natural agent, considered 
precisely as natural, acts of necessity 21 and would act 
just as it does now even if it had no other end but was 
an independent agent. Therefore, if it acts only because 
of an end, this is so only because it depends upon an 
agent which loves the end. But the first efficient cause 
is such an agent, therefore, etc. 

[Secondly,] if the first agent acts for the sake of an end, 
then this end moves the first efficient cause inasmuch as 
it is loved either naturally or by an act of the will. If 
the latter be the case, you grant what I seek to prove. 
If you assume that the end is loved naturally, the assump- 
tion is false, for the first agent loves naturally no end other 
than itself, as matter, for instance, naturally loves form 
or the heavy object the centre [of the earth]. If it did, 
the first agent would be oriented to it as an end, since it 
is inclined to it by its very nature. But if this end which 
it loves naturally is nothing other than itself, then we 
assert nothing more than that the thing is itself . 22 In 
such a case, however, the twofold [causal] aspect would 
not be saved. 

In confirmation of the argument just given we could 
argue that the first efficient cause directs its effect to some 
end. Now, it directs it either naturally or by consciously 
loving this end. The first alternative is untenable, inas- 
much as whatever lacks knowledge can direct its effect to 
some end only in virtue of something which does possess 
knowledge, for “to order ultimately” pertains to wisdom 
according to Metaphysics, bk. i.* Now just as the first 
efficient cause does not cause in virtue of something else, 
neither does this cause direct its effect to an end by reason 
of something other than itself, for otherwise it would not 
be first ; therefore, etc. 

Another proof is this. Something causes contin- 
gently. Therefore, the first cause causes contingently ; 

( 2 , 322 ) 9 


primae consequentiae : quaelibet causa secunda causat 
in quantum movetur a prima ; ergo si prima necessario 
movet, quaelibet alia necessario movetur et quidlibet 
necessario causatur. Igitur, si aliqua causa secunda 
contingenter movet, et prima contingenter movebit, 
quia non causat causa secunda nisi in virtute primae 
causae, in quantum movetur ab ipsa. Probatio secundae 
consequentiae : nullum est principium contingenter 

operandi nisi voluntas, vel aliquid concomitans volun- 
tatem, quia quodlibet aliud agit ex necessitate naturae, 
ita et non contingenter ; ergo etc. 

Contra istam rationem instatur, et primo contra 
primam consequentiam arguitur sic : quia nostrum 

velle posset adhuc aliquid contingenter causare, et ita 
non requiritur quod prima causa illud contingenter 
causet. Item, Philosophus antecedens concessit, scilicet 
quod aliquid contingenter causatur, et negavit conse- 
quens, intelligendo de velle scilicet quod prima causa 
contingenter causet ; ponendo contingentiam in in- 
ferioribus, non propter contingenter Deum velle, sed ex 
motu qui necessario causatur in quantum uniformis, 
sed difformitas sequitur ex partibus ejus, et ita con- 

Contra secundam consequentiam : si causat contin- 
genter, ergo volens, non videtur ten ere, quia aliqua 
naturaliter mota possunt impediri, et ita oppositum con- 
tingenter et violenter potest evenire. 

Ad primum dicendum, quod si Deus est primum 
movens vel efficiens respectu voluntatis nostrae, idem 
sequitur de ipsa quod de aliis, quia sive immediate 
necessario movet earn, sive aliud immediate, et illud 
necessario motum necessario moveat earn, quia movet 


consequently, it causes voluntarily. Proof of the first 
consequence : Every secondary cause causes in so far as 

it is moved by the first cause. If the first cause moves 
necessarily, then, every other cause will be moved 
necessarily and everything will be caused necessarily. 
Consequently, if any secondary cause moves contingently, 
the first cause also moves contingently, since the 
secondary cause can cause only in so far as it is moved 
by the first. Proof of the second consequence : The only 
source of contingent action is either the will or something 
accompanied by the will. Everything else acts with a 
natural necessity and, consequently, not contingently ; 
therefore, etc. 

One objection to this argument is directed against the 
first consequence, namely that our volition would still be 
able to cause something contingently and therefore it is 
unnecessary that the first cause should cause contingently. 
Furthermore, the Philosopher 23 concedes the antecedent 
(that something is caused contingently), yet denies the 
consequent (that the first cause causes contingently). 
He places contingency in the lower beings and not in the 
fact that God wills things contingently. Contingency 
arises from motion, which, though it is caused necessarily 
in so far as it is uniform, gives rise to difformity owing to 
its parts. 

The other objection is to the second consequence. 
Just because something causes contingently, it does not 
seem to follow that therefore this cause is endowed with 
a will, for even what is moved naturally can be impeded. 
Hence, the opposite can happen either contingently or 

To the first objection we must reply that if God is the 
first mover or efficient cause with regard to our will, 
then the same holds of our will as of other things. 
Whether God moves our will immediately with necessity 
or whether He first moves something else necessarily 
and this latter in turn moves our will with necessity. 



non nisi ex hoc quod movetur, sequitur tandem quod 
proximum voluntati necessario moveat voluntatem, etiam 
si proximum voluntati sit ipsamet voluntas, et ita 
necessario volet, et erit volens necessario. Et sequitur 
ulterius impossibile, quod necessario causat quodlibet 
causatum [, et non est aliquid contingens]. 

Ad secundum dico, quod non voco hie contingens 
quodcumque non necessarium, vel non sempitemum, sed 
cujus oppositum posset fieri quando illud fit. Ideo 
dixi : aliquod contingenter causatum, et non aliquod 
est contingens. Nunc dico, quod Philosophus non potest 
consequens negare salvando antecedens per motum ; 
quia si ille totus motus necessario est a causa sua, quaeli- 
bet pars ejus necessario causatur quando causatur, id 
est, inevitabiliter, ita quod oppositum non potest tunc 
causari. Et ulterius, quod causatur per quamcumque 
partem motus, necessario causatur et inevitabiliter. Vel 
igitur nihil fit contingenter, id est, evitabiliter, vel 
primum sic causat immediate, quod posset etiam non 

Ad tertium dico, quod si aliqua causa potest impedire 
istam, hoc non est nisi in virtute superioris causae, et sic 
usque ad primam causam quae si immediatam causam 
sibi necessario movet, usque ad ultimam erit necessitas ; 
ergo necessario impediet, et per consequens, non potest 
alia causa naturaliter causare. 

Sic ergo videtur triplici via ostensum quod primum 
agens est intelligens et volens. Quarum prima est quod 
natura agit propter finem, et non nisi quia dependens 


in any case the will would be necessarily moved by 
whatever is proximate to it. This would be true even 
if this proximate cause were itself will. The will, there- 
fore, would will necessarily and would be a necessary 
voluntary agent. And there is still another absurdity 
that would follow, viz. that it would cause necessarily 
anything that is caused, and there would be nothing 

As to the second objection, let me say that by “con- 
tingent” I do not mean something that is not necessary 
or which was not always in existence, but something 
whose opposite could have occurred at the time that this 
actually did. That is why I do not say that something 
is contingent, but that something is caused contingently. 
Now I maintain that the Philosopher cannot deny the 
consequent and still save the antecedent through the 
expedient of motion, because if the motion as a whole 
proceeds from its cause in a necessary manner, every 
single part of it is caused necessarily at the time it occurs. 
In other words, it is inevitable, so that the opposite effect 
could not possibly be caused at just this moment. 
Furthermore, whatever is caused by any part of this 
motion is caused necessarily and inevitably. Therefore, 
either nothing ever happens unavoidably or contingently, 
or the first cause immediately causes what it was also able 
not to cause. 

To the third objection, I say that if any cause can 
impede a natural cause, it can do so only in virtue of a 
higher cause, and so we are forced back again to the first 
cause. If this first cause necessarily moves the cause 
immediately below it, this necessity will continue down 
to the last cause, which will consequently be necessarily 
impeded in its action. As a result, this last cause could 
not cause anything naturally. 

There appears to be three ways, then, of proving that 
the first agent is intelligent and endowed with will. The 
first of these is that nature acts on account of an end. 


5 6 

et directa a cognoscente finem ; secunda est quod ipsum 
primum agens agit propter finem ; et tertia quod 
aliquis effectus contingenter fit quando causatur. 

[Conclusio Secunda], Ulterius quoad quaestionem 
praeambulam ad infinitatem, probo secundo quod ejus 
intellectio et volitio est idem quod ejus essentia. Et 
primo de volitione sui ipsius ut objecti, ita quod primam 
causam amare est idem essentialter cum natura causae 
et omnis actus voluntatis ejus. Probatio : causalitas et 
causatio causae finalis est simpliciter prima, secundum 
Avicennam sexto Metaphysicae [cap. v], dicentem quod si 
de qualibet causa esset scientia, ilia quae esset de causa 
finali esset nobilissima ; ipsa enim quantum ad causali- 
tatem praecedit causam efficientem, quia movet eum ad 
agendum, et ideo causalitas primi finis et ejus causatio 
est penitus incausabilis secundum quamcumque causa- 
tionem in quolibet genere causae. Causalitas autem finis 
primi est efficiens primum movere sicut amatum. Idem 
autem est primum finem movere primum efficiens ut 
amatum ab ipso et primum efficiens amare propter finem, 
quia nihil aliud est objectum amari a voluntate quam 
voluntatem amare objectum ; ergo primum efficiens 
amare primum finem est penitus incausabile, et ita per 
se necesse esse, et ita erit idem naturae primae. Et quasi 
convertitur ratio ex opposito conclusionis ; quia si 
primum amare est aliud a natura prima, ergo est 
causabile, et per consequens effectibile. Igitur ab 
aliquo per se efficiente amante finem ; igitur primum 
amare se esset causatum ex aliquo amore finis priore isto 
causato ; quod est impossible. 

Hoc ostendit Aristoteles, duodecimo Metaphysicae* 
de intelligere quia aliter primum non erit optima 

xii, cap. ix (1074*, 28-29). 


and it does this, only because it is dependent upon and 
directed by someone who knows the end. The second is 
that this first agent acts for the sake of an end. The third 
is that some effects are caused contingently. But let us 
proceed with the preliminaries to the proof for infinity. 

[Second Conclusion]. The second conclusion I establish 
is this : the knowledge and volition of this First Being is the 
same as its essence. This is true, first, of its volition of 
itself as object, so that to love the first cause is something 
essentially identified with the nature of this cause, and 
the same holds for every act of its will. Proof : The 

causality and causation of the final cause is simply first 
according to Avicenna’s Metaphysics,, where he says : 
“If we had scientific knowledge of any cause, that of the 
final cause would be the most excellent”. The reason is 
this. The final cause from the standpoint of causality 
precedes the efficient cause inasmuch as it moves it to 
act. Therefore, the causality of the ultimate end and 
its causation is completely incapable of being caused in 
any way. Now the causality of the ultimate end consists 
in this. By being loved it moves the first efficient cause. 
But it is one and the same thing whether the ultimate end 
moves the first efficient cause by being loved by this 
cause or whether the first efficient cause loves for the sake 
of an end. For an object being loved by the will means 
the same as a will loving an object. Hence, the love by 
which the first efficient cause loves the ultimate end is 
completely incapable of being caused. Therefore, it 
exists necessarily and consequently is the same as the 
first nature. Or to use the argument in reverse, if this 
first love is directed towards anything other than the first 
nature itself, it can be caused and therefore produced, 
and this by some per se efficient cause which in turn loves 
some end. Consequently, this first love of itself would be 
caused by some prior love of an end, which is impossible. 

Aristotle in his Metaphysics, bk. xii,* proves that the 
knowledge which the First Being possesses is the same as 



substantia, quia per intelligere est honorabile ; secundo 
quia alias laboriosa erit ejus continuatio. Item si non 
sit illud, erit in potentia contradictionis ad illud. Ad 
illam naturam sequitur labor, secundum ipsum. 

Istae rationes possunt ratione declarari. Prima sic : 
cum omnis entis in actu primo perfectio ejus ultima sit 
in actu secundo quo conjungitur optimo, maxime si sit 
activum et non tantum factivum. Omne autem intelli- 
gibile est activum, et prima natura est intelligibilis ex 
praemissa, sequitur ergo quod ultima ejus perfectio erit 
in actu secundo. Igitur si ille non sit ejus substantia, 
substantia ejus non est optima, quia aliud est suum 

Secunda ratio potest declarari sic : potentia solum- 
modo receptiva est potentia contradictionis ; ergo cum 
hoc non sit hujusmodi ; ergo etc. Sed quia secundum 
Aristotelem, nec ista est ratio demonstrativa, sed tantum 
probabilis, aliter propositum ostendatur ex identitate 
potentiae et objecti in se ; ergo actus erit eis idem. Sed 
consequentia non valet. Patet instantia : quia angelus 
intelligit se et amat se, et tamen actus angeli amandi et 
intelligendi non sunt idem substantiae ejus. 

Haec conclusio, videlicet, quod essentia divina sit 
eadem quod volitio sui ipsius, foecunda [.MS' vera] est 
ex corollariis. Nam sequitur primo quod voluntas est 
idem primae naturae ; quia velle non est nisi volun- 
tatis ; ergo ilia voluntas cujus velle est incausabile, est 


its essence, first, because it would not be the best 
substance, were such not the case, since this is the most 
excellent of substances precisely because of the knowledge 
it possesses. And secondly, because otherwise the First 
Being would grow weary if it continued to think, for if 
its thought were not its substance, the latter would be in 
potency of contradiction 24 to thinking, and this would 
produce weariness according to Aristotle. 

These arguments from authority can be established by 
reason. As to the first, every being which is in first act 
finds its ultimate perfection in its second act, through 
which it is united to that which is best for it . 25 This 
is true especially if this being is capable of acting in the 
proper sense of the term and not merely in the sense of 
producing or fashioning some external object . 26 Now 
whatever is intelligible is active in the proper sense of the 
term, and the first nature is intelligible from what we said 
above. Therefore, it follows that the ultimate perfection of 
this Being will be in its second act. But if this act is not the 
substance itself, the latter will not be the best inasmuch 
as its ultimate perfection is something other than itself. 

[Aristotle’s] second reason can be put in this way. 
Only a receptive potency is in potency of contradiction. 
But this Being has no receptive potencies ; therefore, etc. 
Since Aristotle, however, did not consider his proof 
demonstrative but merely probable, some 27 would 
prove the thesis in another way, viz. since the faculty 
and the object are identical, therefore the act is identified 
with them. This inference, however, is invalid as is clear 
from the case of an angel, which knows and loves itself 
and nevertheless, its acts of loving and knowing are not 
identical with its substance. 

This conclusion, viz. that the divine essence is identical 
with its volition, is fruitful because of its corollaries. First 
of all, it follows that the will is the same as the first nature, 
because willing is a function only of the will ; wherefore, 
if the volition itself is uncausable, the same is true of the 



etiam incausabilis ; ergo, etc. Et similiter velle intelli- 
gitur quasi posterius voluntate ; tamen velle est idem 
illi naturae ; ergo magis voluntas. 

Item, secundo sequitur quod intelligere se est idem 
illi naturae, quia nihil amatur nisi cognitum ; sicut si 
amare se ex se est necesse esse, sequitur quod intelligere 
se est necesse esse ex se. 

Et si est intelligere propinquior illi naturae quam velle, 
ideo sequitur ulterius quod intellectus sit idem illi 
naturae, sicut prius de voluntate ex velle argutum est. 

Sequitur quarto etiam quod ratio intelligendi se sit 
idem sibi quia necesse esse est ex se, si intelligere sit ex 
se necesse esse, et ratio intelligendi se quasi praeintelli- 
gitur ipsi intellectui. 

[Conclusio Tertia]. Ostenso de intelligere se et velle 
se quod sint idem essentiae primi, ostendo propositum 
ex aliis, scilicet de omni intelligere et velle ; et sit con- 
clusio tertia ista : nullum intelligere potest esse accidens 
primae naturae. Probatio, quia de ilia natura prima 
ostensum est esse in se primum effectivum. Ergo ex se 
habet unde posset quodcumque causabile causare cir- 
cumscripto alio quocumque, saltern ut prima causa 
illius causabilis ; sed circumscripta cognitione ejus, non 
habet unde possit illud causabile causare ; ergo cognitio 
cujuscumque alterius non est aliud a natura sua. Pro- 
batio assumpti, quia nihil potest causare nisi ex amore 
finis volendo illud, quia non potest aliter esse per se 
agens, quia nec agere propter finem ; nunc autem ipsi 


will to which it belongs ; consequently [the will is identi- 
fied with the nature]. Furthermore, since the act of the 
will is conceived as though it were posterior to the will, 
if the former is identical with that nature, then the latter 
will be all the more so. 

Secondly, it follows that this self-knowledge is identical 
with that nature, for nothing is loved unless it is known. 
Hence it follows that just as this self-love exists necessarily 
in virtue of itself, so also this self-knowledge. 

Then too, knowledge, as it were, is more closely con- 
nected with that nature than is volition. Therefore, it 
follows in the third place that the intellect is the same 
thing as that nature. We prove this in the same way as 
we previously established the identity of the will from 
the act of willing. 

Fourthly, it follows that whatever is required for this 
nature to know itself is also identical with the nature , 28 
for if the knowledge exists in virtue of itself, then the same 
is true of the reason for knowing, because the latter, as 
it were, must first be known to the intellect. 

[Third Conclusion], Having proved that this self- 
knowledge and self-love of the first being are the same as 
its essence, I go on to show the same to be true of other 
acts, namely of all its knowledge and all its acts of 
volition. Let the third conclusion be that no knowledge can 
be an accident of the first nature. Proof : The first nature 

has been shown to be first in the order of efficiency, and 
therefore has of itself and apart from anything else, the 
ability to produce whatever can be produced, at least 
in so far as it is the first cause of that which can be 
produced. But without a knowledge of the latter, the 
first nature would be unable to produce what can be 
produced. Hence, the knowledge of any of these other 
beings is not something distinct from its own nature. 
Proof of the last assumption : Nothing can cause an 
effect except by willing it for the sake of an end. Other- 
wise it would not be a per se agent, since it would not 



velle alicujus propter finem praeintelligitur intelligere 
ipsum. Ante igitur primum signum, in quo intelligitur 
causans sive volens A, necessario praeintelligitur intelli- 
gens A, ita sine hoc non potest per se efficere, et ita de 

Item probatur idem : quia omnes intellectiones ejus- 
dem intellectus habent similem habitudinem ad intel- 
lectum secundum identitatem essentialem vel acciden- 
talem, sicut patet de omni intellectu creato et ejus intel- 
lectionibus, quia videntur perfectiones ejusdem generis. 
Ergo si aliquae habent receptivum, et omnes ; et si 
aliqua est accidens, et quaelibet, Sed aliqua non potest 
esse accidens in primo, ex praecedenti quaestione, quia 
non intellectio sui ipsius ; ergo nulla erit ibi accidens. 

Item, intelligere si quod potest esse accidens recipietur 
in intellectu ut in subjecto ; ergo et in illo intelligere 
quod est idem intellectui, et ita perfectius intelligere erit 
in potentia receptiva respectu imperfections [quod est 
absurdum] . 

Item, idem intelligere potest esse plurium objectorum 
ordinandorum ; ergo quanto perfectius tanto plurium ; 
ergo perfectissimum, quo incompossibile est perfectius 
intelligi, erit idem omnium intelligibilium. Intelligere 
primi sic est perfectissimum ; ergo idem est omnium 
intelligibilium, et illud quod est sui est idem sibi, ex 
proxima praecedente ; ergo intelligere omnium est 
idem. Et eandem conclusionem volo intelligi de velle. 


be acting for an end. But before anything can be willed 
for the sake of an end, it must be known. Hence, before 
we can even conceive of the First Being as willing or 
causing A, we must conceive it as knowing A, for without 
such knowledge the first cause would not be properly a 
cause. And the same holds true of everything else it 
could produce. 

Another proof of the same is that all the acts of know- 
ledge of any given intellect are related in the same way 
to that intellect, so that either all are accidents or all are 
of the essence of that intellect. This is clear in regard to 
all created intellects and their respective acts of know- 
ledge, all of which seem to be of the same kind of perfec- 
tion. Therefore, if some of the acts are received by the 
intellect, all the acts are, and if one of them is an accident, 
the remainder are likewise. But from the preceding 
conclusion, the self-knowledge of the first being cannot 
be an accident ; therefore none of its knowledge will be 
accidental to it. 

Furthermore, if some act of knowledge can be an 
accident, it will be received by the intellect as by its 
subject. In such a case, however, the act of knowledge 
which is identical with the intellect and is the more 
perfect of the two acts of knowledge, would itself be the 
recipient of the less perfect, which is absurd . 29 

Furthermore, the same act of knowledge can embrace 
several interrelated objects, and the more perfect this 
act is, the greater can be the number of objects. Conse- 
quently, an act that is so completely perfect that it would 
be impossible to have anything more perfect, will embrace 
all that can be known. Now the understanding of the 
First Being is of such perfection ; therefore there is but 
one act for all that can be known. Now, from the pre- 
ceding conclusion, self-knowledge is identical with its 
very being ; consequently, all knowledge is identical 
with its being. This same conclusion I wish to be under- 
stood of the act of volition. 



Item, iste intellectus non est nisi quoddam intelligere ; 
sed iste intellectus est idem omnium et ita quod non 
potest esse alicujus alterius objecti ; ergo nec intelligere 
aliud ; ergo idem intelligere est omnium. Fallacia est 
accidentis ex identitate aliquorum inter se concludere 
identitatem respectu tertii, respectu cujus extraneantur, 
et patet in simili : intelligere est idem quod velle ; si 
ergo intelligere ipsum est alicujus, ergo et velle est 
ejusdem ; non sequitur, sed tantummodo sequitur quia 
est velle, quod quidem velle est aliquid ejusdem, quia 
intelligere est ejusdem ; ita quod divisim inferri potest, 
non conjunctim propter accidens. 

Item, intellectus primi habet actum unum adaequa- 
tum sibi et coaeternum, quia intelligere se est idem sibi. 
Ergo non potest aliquem habere alium. Consequentia 
non valet. Exemplum de beato, qui simul videt Deum 
et aliud etiamsi videat Deum secundum ultimum 
capacitatis suae, ut de anima Christi ponitur, et adhuc 
potest videre aliud. 

Item arguitur : intellectus iste habet in se per identi- 
tatem perfectionem maximam intelligendi ; ergo et 
omnem aliam. Respondeo : non sequitur, quia alia 
quae minor est, potest esse causabilis, et ideo differre ab 
incausabili ; maxima autem non potest. 

[Conclusio Quarta], Quarta conclusio principalis de 
intellectu et voluntate Dei est ista : intellectus primi 
intelligit semper et distincto et actu et necessario quod- 



It is also said that this intellect is nothing more than 
a certain kind of knowing ; but this intellect is the same 
for all things so that it cannot differ for different objects. 
Therefore, neither is the act of understanding different. 
Hence, one act of understanding suffices for all objects. 
However, to argue in all cases from the identity of two 
things among themselves to their identity with relation 
to a third object distinct from both, as this argument 
does, is to commit the fallacy of accident. For instance, 
just because an act of understanding is identified with 
the act of willing, it does not follow that whatever is 
known by the act of knowledge is also loved by the will. 
All that follows is that an act of volition exists and that 
this act of will is something which is related to object 
known [not indeed by a relation of love] but in so far as 
it is also an act of knowledge. The inference can be 
made only in disjunction, not in conjunction, for only 
an incidental relation exists between the two. 

Another argument advanced is that inasmuch as the 
First Being’s act of self-knowledge is identical with itself, 
its intellect has one coeternal and completely adequate 
act, and therefore can have no other. The inference is 
invalid. Take the example of one who is beatified. He 
has an intellectual vision of God and of other things as 
well. Even though he sees God to the utmost of his 
ability, as we assume to be the case with the soul of 
Christ, he can still see something else. 

Still another argument employed is this. Since this 
intellect is identified with the most perfect knowledge 
possible [viz. knowledge of the supreme nature itself], it 
also possesses all other knowledge. I reply that this does 
not follow, for this other lesser knowledge could be 
caused, and therefore it could be different from the most 
perfect self-knowledge, which is uncaused. 

[Fourth Conclusion]. The fourth principal conclusion 
which concerns the intellect and will of God is this : 
the intellect of the First Being knows everything else that can be 


cumque intelligibile, prius naturaliter quam illud sit 
in se. 

Prima pars probatur, quia potest cognoscere quod- 
cumque intelligibile, sic : hoc enim est perfectionis in 
intellectu, posse distincte et actu cognoscere quodcum- 
que intelligibile. Imo hoc ponere est necessarium ad 
rationem intellectus, quia omnis intellectus est totius entis 
sumpti communissime, ut determinabitur distinctione 
tertia.* Nullam autem intellectionem potest habere 
intellectus primi nisi eamdem sibi, ex proxima ; igitur 
cujuslibet intelligibilis habet intelligere actuale et 
distinctum, et hoc idem sibi, et ita semper et necessario. 

Secunda pars, de prioritate, probatur sic : quia 

quidquid est idem sibi, a se est necesse esse, sicut patuit 
prius. Sed esse aliorum non a se est non necesse esse ; 
ergo necesse esse ex se est prius natura omnium non 
necessario. Aliter probatur, quia esse cujuslibet alterius 
dependet ab ipso ut a causa, et ut causa est alicujus 
causabilis, necessario includitur cognitio ejus ex parte 
causae ; ergo ilia cognitio erit prior naturaliter ipso 
esse cogniti. Secunda pars etiam conclusionis probatur 
aliter, quia artifex perfectus distincte cognoscit omne 
agendum antequam fiat ; alias non perfecte operaretur, 
quia cognitio est mensura juxta quam operatur ; ergo 
Deus est omnium producibilium a se habens notitiam 
distinctam et actualem, vel saltern habitualem, priorem 
eis. Contra istam instatur de arte, quia ars universalis 
sufficit ad universalia ; ergo, etc. Responsionem 

* Opus oxoniense, I, dist. in, q. iii. 


known with a knowledge that is eternal, is distinct, is actual, is 
necessary and is prior by nature to the existence of these things in 

Proof of the first part. To be able to know actually 
and distinctly each and every other thing that can be 
known is something that pertains to the perfection of 
knowledge. Indeed, the very notion of an intellect 
makes it necessary to assume the possibility of such know- 
ledge, for every intellect (as will be determined in dis- 
tinction three) has to do with all being in general. But 
the intellect of the First Being can have no knowledge 
that is not one with itself (from the preceding conclusion) , 
Therefore, it knows everything intelligible actually and 
distinctly. Since this knowledge is identified with the 
First Being, it is eternal and necessary. 

The second part about the priority of this knowledge 
is proved as follows. As we have made clear above, what- 
ever is identical with this Being, exists necessarily. But 
the existence of other things which are not self-existent 
is not necessary. Necessary being, however, is prior by 
nature to everything that does not necessarily exist. — 
Another proof is this. Every being other than the first 
depends upon the latter as upon a cause. Now to be a 
cause of something, it must necessarily possess a know- 
ledge of what it can cause. Consequently, this knowledge 
will be naturally prior to the existence of the thing known. 
— Still another proof for the second part of this conclusion 
is the following. The perfect artisan has a distinct know- 
ledge of everything to be done before he does it. Other- 
wise he would not act perfectly, for knowledge is the 
norm which regulates his work. God, therefore, has 
some previous distinct knowledge, either actual or at 
least habitual, of everything that he can make. — Against 
this last argument, the objection is raised that the posses- 
sion of some universal art suffices for the production of 
both the universal and the singular. For the solution to 
this objection, see what I have said elsewhere . 30 

( 2 , 322 ) 




[ Pars Secunda. De Infinitate Primi Entis ]. His ostensis 
praeambulis, arguo infinitatem quatuor viis : primo per 
viam efficientiae ubi ostendetur propositum dupliciter : 
primo quia ipsum est primum efficiens omnium ; secundo, 
quia efficiens, puta distincte cognoscens omnia facti- 
bilia : tertio ostendetur infinitas per viam finis : et 

quarto per viam eminentiae. 

[Via Prima]. Primam viam ex parte causae tangit 
Philosophus, octavo Physicorum * et duodecimo Meta- 
physicae,\ quia movet motu infinito ; ergo habet poten- 
tiam infinitam. 

Haec ratio roboratur quantum ad antecedens sic : 
aeque concluditur propositum si possit movere per 
infinitum, sicut si moveret per infinitum, quia aeque 
oportet eum esse in actu ; sicut illud posse patet de primo 
quantum est ex se ; licet igitur non moveat motu infinito 
sicut intelligit Aristoteles, tamen si accipiatur antecedens 
istud quod quantum est ex parte sua potest movere, 
habetur antecedens verum et aeque sufficiens ad inferen- 
dum propositum. 

Consequentia probatur sic : quia si ex se non virtute 
alterius movet motu infinito, ergo non ab alio accipit 
sic movere, sed in virtute sua activa habet totum effectum 
suum simul, quia independenter ; sed quod simul habet 
in virtute infinitum effectum est infinitum ; ergo, etc. 

Aliter roboratur prima consequentia sic : primum 

movens simul habet in virtute sua omnes effectus 

* viii, cap. x (266°, 10-24). 

T XII > cap. vii (1073®, 3-13). 



[Part II. The Infinity of the First Being], Now that 
these preliminary conclusions have been established, I 
argue in four ways for the infinity [of the First Being]. 
The notion of efficiency really provides two of the argu- 
ments, the first of which is drawn from the fact that this 
Being is the first efficient cause of all other things ; the 
second, that as efficient cause, this Being has a distinct 
knowledge of all that can be made. The third way is 
that of finality ; the fourth, that of eminence. 

[a. First Proof]. The Philosopher treats of the first 
way from efficient causality in Physics , bk. vjii,* and his 
Metaphysics , bk. xn,f where he argues that the First Being 
has infinite power, because it moves with an endless 

The antecedent can be reinforced inasmuch as the 
desired conclusion follows equally well from the fact that 
the First Being can cause such motion as it would if it 
actually did so ; for in either case, the actual existence 
of such a being would be necessarily required. Now it 
is clear that, so far as the First Being exists in virtue of 
itself, it has this ability to produce endless movement. 
Therefore, even though such a being may not actually 
cause an endless movement as Aristotle thought, still the 
proposed conclusion can be inferred with equal validity 
if the antecedent be understood of the ability of the first 
cause to produce such movement. 

The proof of the consequence is this. If the First 
Being, by itself and not in virtue of another, moves with 
an infinite movement, then it has not received such 
power of movement from another. Hence it has in its 
power at one and the same time the totality of its effect, 
because it has this power independently. But, whatever 
has an infinite effect in its power at one and the same 
moment is infinite ; therefore, etc. 

Another way to reinforce the first consequence is this. 
At one and the same moment, the First Mover has in its 
power all the possible effects to be produced by motion. 



possibiles produci per motum ; sed illi sunt infiniti, si 
motus infinitus ; ergo, etc. 

Contra istas declarationes Aristotelis : quidquid sit 
de antecedente, tamen consequentia prima non videtur 
bene probari. Non primo modo, quia duratio major 
nihil perfectionis addit ; nam albedo quae uno anno 
manet non est perfectior quam si tantum uno die maneret ; 
ergo motus quantaecumque durationis non est perfectior 
effectus quam motus unius diei. Ergo ex hoc, quod 
agens habet in virtute sua activa simul movere motu 
infinito, non concluditur major perfectio hie quam ibi, 
nisi quod agens diutius movet et ex se ; et ita esset 
ostendendum quod aeternitas agentis concluderet ejus 
infinitatem ; alias ex infinitate motus non posset con- 

Tunc ad formam, ultima propositio illius roborationis 
negatur, nisi de infinitate durationis. Secunda roboratio 
etiam consequentiae improbatur quia non major per- 
tectio intensiva concluditur ex hoc quod agens quod- 
cumque ejusdem specie! potest producere successive 
quotcumque quamdiu manet, quia quod potest in 
tempore uno in unum tale, potest eadem virtute in mille 
talia, si mille temporibus maneat. Et non est possibilis 
apud philosophos infinitas nisi numeralis effectuum pro- 
ducibilium, per motum scilicet generabilium et corrup- 
tibilium, quia in speciebus finitatem ponebant ; ergo 
non magis sequitur infinitas intensiva in agente ex hoc 
quod potest in infinita numero successive, quam si posset 


If the motion is without end, however, these effects are 
infinite ; therefore, etc. 

Against these statements of Aristotle : Whatever is to 
be said of the antecedent, the first consequence still does 
not seem to be validly established. Certainly not in the 
first way for a perfection does not increase simply because 
it endures for a greater length of time. Whiteness which 
exists for a year does not become any more perfect than 
if it existed just for a day. Therefore, movement which 
continues for howsoever long a time, is not a more perfect 
effect than the movement which lasts for a day. Con- 
sequently, just because at one and the same moment an 
agent virtually possesses infinite movement, we cannot 
conclude to any greater perfection in this case than in 
any other — except that here the agent moves by itself 
and for a longer time. And so we would have to prove 
that the eternity of the agent implied its infinity ; other- 
wise, the latter could not be inferred merely from the 
endlessness of the movement. 

As to the form of the argument, the last proposition 
of the reinforced argument [viz. that whatever has an 
endless effect virtually is infinite] may be denied if used 
to prove anything more than an infinity of duration. 
Also the second reinforcement of the consequence breaks 
down, inasmuch as we cannot conclude to greater 
intensive perfection merely from this that an agent, if it 
remains in existence long enough, can produce succes- 
sively any number whatsoever of the same species. For 
what an agent can do in one moment to one thing, by 
the very same power it can do to a thousand in a thousand 
such moments, if it exists for such a length of time. How- 
ever, according to the philosophers, who assumed only a 
finite number of species, the only infinity possible is the 
numerical infinity of effects that come into existence and 
go out of existence through motion. Hence, there is no 
more reason for concluding that the agent is intensively 
infinite 31 just because it can do an infinite number of 



in duo tantum, tantum enim est possibilis infinitas 
numeralis secundum philosophos. Si quis autem probet 
infinitatem specierum possibilem, probando aliquos 
motus coelestes esse incommensurabiles, et ita numquam 
posse redire ad uniformitatem, etiam si per infinitum 
durarent, et infinitae conjunctiones specie causarent 
infinita generabilia specie, de hoc, quidquid sit in se, 
nihil tamen ad intentionem Philosophi, qui infinitatem 
specierum negaret. 

Ultima probabilitas quae occurrit pro consequentia 
Philosophi declaranda est ista : quidquid potest in aliqua 
multa simul quorum quodlibet requirit aliquam per- 
fectionem sibi propriam, illud concluditur esse perfectius 
ex pluralitate talium, ita videtur de primo agente esse 
concedendum, quod si posset causare simul infinita, quod 
esset ejus virtus infinita, et per consequens si primum 
agens simul habet virtutem causandi infinita, quantum 
est ex se simul posset ea producere, licet natura effectus 
non permittat, adhuc sequitur infinitas virtutis ejus. 
Haec consequentia ultima probatur : quia potens causare 
albedinem et nigredinem, non est minus perfectum quia 
non sunt simul causabilia. Haec enim non simultas est 
ex repugnantia eorum et non est ex defectu agentis. 

Et ex isto probo infinitatem sic : si primum haberet 
omnem causalitatem formaliter simul, licet non possent 
causabilia simul poni in esse, esset infinitum, quia simul, 
quantum est ex se, posset infinita producere, et posse 


things successively (for only a numerical infinity is pos- 
sible according to the philosophers) than there would be 
if it could do but two. But suppose someone should 
prove that an infinity of species is possible by proving 
that some heavenly movements are incommensurable 
and so the same arrangement would never recur even 
though the movement should continue ad infinitum. The 
infinite variety of [planetary] conjunctions, then, would 
cause an infinite variety in the effects that can be pro- 
duced. Whatever is to be said of this view, however, it 
is definitely not the position of Aristotle, who denies the 
infinity of the species . 32 

The final probable interpretation advanced to rein- 
force the Philosopher’s reasoning may be put in this way. 
If an agent can do many things at once, where each of 
the things in question needs some perfection proper to 
itself, then the greater the number of such things, the 
greater the perfection of the agent. And so it seems that 
we must concede that if the power of the First Agent 
could produce an infinity of effects at one and the same 
time, it must be infinite. This conclusion would follow 
even where the nature of the effect was such as to make 
its simultaneous existence in an infinite number impos- 
sible, provided that, so far as the causal power of the 
agent was concerned, it could produce simultaneously an 
infinite multitude. — This last inference is proved as 
follows. An agent that can cause both whiteness and 
blackness is not less perfect because it cannot cause the 
two simultaneously, for this inability to exist simultane- 
ously arises from the repugnance of the effects to each 
other, and not from any defect in the agent. 

From this I prove infinity in this way : If the First 
Being at one and the same time formally possessed all 
causal power, even though the things which it could 
cause could not be given simultaneous existence, it 
would be infinite, because — as far as it is concerned — - 
it has power enough to produce an infinite number all 



plura simul concludit majorem potentiam intensive ; 
ergo si habet perfectius quam si haberet omnem causali- 
tatem formaliter, magis sequitur infinitas intensiva. Sed 
habet omnem causalitatem cujuslibet rei secundum totum 
quod est in re ipsa eminentius quam si esset formaliter. 

Licet ergo omnipotentiam proprie dictam secundum 
intentionem theologorum tantum creditam esse et non 
naturali ratione credam posse probari, sicut dicetur 
distinctione xlii et Quodl. q. vn,* tamen probatur naturali- 
ter infinita potentia, quae simul, quantum est ex se, habet 
omnem causalitatem, quae simul posset in infinita, si 
essent simul factibilia. 

Si objicis, primum non potest ex se simul in infinita, 
quia non est probatum quod sit totalis causa infinitorum, 
hoc nihil obstat, quia si haberet simul unde esset totalis 
causa, nihil perfectius esset quam nunc sit, quando habet 
unde sit prima causa : turn quia illae secundae causae 
non requiruntur propter perfectionem in causando, quia 
tunc remotius a prima esset perfectius, quia perfectiorem 
requireret causam, sed si requiruntur causae secundae 
cum prima, secundum philosophos, hoc est propter im- 
perfectionem eflfectus, ut primum cum alia causa imper- 
fecta posset causare imperfectum, quod secundum ipsos, 
non posset immediate causare : turn quia perfectiones 
totae secundum Aristotelem eminentius sunt in primo 
quam si ipsae formalitates earum sibi inessent, si possent 
inesse. Quod probatur, quia causa secunda proxima 

♦ Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. xlii, q. unica; Quodlibet, q. vii. 


at once, and the more one can produce simultaneously, 
the greater the power in intensity. But if the First 
Being possessed such power in an even more perfect 
way than if it had it formally [as Avicenna, for instance, 
assumes], its intensive infinity follows a fortiori. But the 
full causal power that each thing may have in itself, the 
First Being possesses even more perfectly than if it were 
formally present. 

Therefore, although I believe that the omnipotence 
in the proper sense of the word as the theologians under- 
stand it , 33 cannot be proven by natural reason, but is 
only believed (as will be shown in dist. xlii and Quodlibet 
q. vii),* nevertheless we can establish naturally the exis- 
tence of an infinite power which on its part possesses 
simultaneously the fulness of causality and could produce 
an infinite number of things at once, if only they were 
capable of existing simultaneously. 

It is objected that the First Cause on its part cannot 
cause an infinite number of effects at one time, so long 
as it is not proved that it is the total cause of these effects. 
This objection, however, presents no obstacle, since the 
requirements to be a total cause would not make it any 
more perfect than it would have to be if it were the First 
Cause. This is clear, first of all, because secondary 
causes are not required simply to supply some additional 
perfection to the causality, for if that were the case, the 
more remote effect would be the more perfect inasmuch 
as it would require a more perfect cause. But if secondary 
causes are needed in addition to the First Cause, the 
reason, according to the philosophers , 34 lies in the fact 
that the effect is imperfect. That is to say, the First 
Cause, which immediately would be unable to cause 
anything imperfect, could do so in conjunction with 
another imperfect cause. Also, the First Being, accord- 
ing to Aristotle, contains all the perfections in a more 
perfect manner than if they were formally present, were 
this latter possible. The proof of this lies in the fact that 



primae totam perfectionem suam causativam habet a 
sola prima ; ergo totam perfectionem illam eminentius 
habet causa prima quam secunda causa habens ipsam 
formaliter. Consequentia patet, quia prima respectu 
illius causae secundae est causa totalis et aequivoca. 
Consimiliter quaeratur de tertia causa respectu secundae 
vel respectu primae. Si respectu primae, habetur pro- 
positum. Si respectu secundae, sequitur secundam 
eminenter continere perfectionem totalem quae est 
formaliter in tertia. Sed secunda habet a prima quod 
sic continet perfectionem tertiae, ex praeostensa ; ergo 
prima eminentius habet continere perfectionem tertiae 
quam secunda ; et sic de omnibus aliis usque ad ulti- 
mam ; quare [concluditur] primam causam habere 
eminenter totalem perfectionem causativam omnium 
et perfectius quam si haberet causalitatem omnium 
formaliter, si esset possibile. Videtur judicio meo posse 
concludere ratio Aristotelis de substantia infinita, quae 
accipitur ex octavo Physicorum * et duodecimo Meta- 
physicae f superius posita. 

Juxta istam viam efficientiae arguitur quod habeat 
potentiam infinitam, nam virtus quae potest super extrema 
distantia in infinitum, est infinita. Sed virtus divina est 
hujusmodi in creatione. Inter enim extrema creationis 
est infinita distantia, sicut inter aliquid et nihil. Sed 
hoc antecedens ponitur tantum creditum, et verum est 
de creatione in ordine reali, ita scilicet quod non-esse 
quasi durative praecederet esse reale existentiae creaturae. 
Non tamen est minor credita de creatione qua ordine 
naturae esse sequitur non-esse, quo modo loquitur 
Avicenna de creatione quinto [read sexto] Metaphysicae % ; 
sed est sufficienter demonstrata quia saltern prima natura 

* vm, cap. x (266 a , 10-24). t xii, cap. vii (1072®, -3— 1 •a). 

{ Metaphysica, Vi, cap. ii. 



the secondary cause closest to the first receives all of its 
causal perfection exclusively from the first. Consequently, 
the First Cause has the whole of this perfection in a more 
eminent way than the second cause, which possesses it 
formally. The consequence is evident, since the first 
is the total equivocal cause of the second. We can argue 
the same way regarding the relation of the third cause 
to the second or first cause. If we take it in relation to the 
first, we have the proposed conclusion. If we take it in 
relation to the second, then it follows that the second 
cause contains the total perfection found formally in the 
third. But as we have shown, the second cause owes this 
all to the First Cause ; therefore, the First Cause must 
contain the perfection of the third in an even more 
perfect way than does the second. And the same is true 
with all the other causes down to the very last. There- 
fore, we conclude that the First Cause contains eminently 
the total causal perfection of all the other causes, and 
this in a way that is even more perfect than if it contained 
this causality formally, were that possible. To my mind, 
it seems that Aristotle’s argument for an infinite substance 
in Physics, bk. viii,* and Metaphysics, bk. xii,| can be made 
to hold. 

Using this way of efficiency, some 35 argue that the 
First Cause has infinite power, because any power which 
can bridge the distance between infinite extremes is 
itself infinite. The divine power in creation, however, 
is of such a nature, for between the extremes of creation 
(i.e. between nothing and something) an infinite distance 
intervenes. If existence be understood as true of the real 
order where non-existence precedes existence by a 
priority of duration, then the antecedent is an assumption 
based on faith alone ; whereas if we take creation as 
Avicenna does in Metaphysics, bk. vi,t in the sense that non- 
existence precedes existence merely by a priority of 
nature, then the antecedent is no longer an assumption of 
faith . 36 For it is sufficiently demonstrated that the first 



post Deum est ab ipso et non a se, nec accipit esse aliquo 
praesupposito. Ergo illud creatur. Nam si est primum 
effectivum, quodlibet aliud ab eo totum esse suum capit 
ab eo, quia aliter secundum aliquid ejus non dependet 
ab eo, nec illud esset tunc primum effectivum. Sed quod 
sic capit totum esse suum ab aliquo, ita quod per naturam 
suam habet esse post non-esse, creatur ; ergo, etc. Sed 
sic accipiendo prius natura tam esse quam non-esse, 
non sunt extrema mutationis \_MS univocationis] quam 
causet ista virtus, nec illud effici requirit mutari. 

Sed quidquid sit de antecedente, consequentia non 
probatur ; quia quando inter extrema nulla est distantia 
media, sicut est in continuo cujus extrema sunt duo 
puncta, ista dicuntur praecise distare ratione extremorum 
inter se ; tanta ergo est distantia quantum est majus 
extremum. Exemplum : Deus distat in infinitum a 

creatura etiam suprema possibili, non quidem propter 
aliquam distantiam mediam inter extrema, sed propter 
infinitatem unius extremi ; sic ergo contradictoria non 
distant per aliqua media, quia contradictoria sunt 
immediata, ita quod quantumcumque parum recedit 
aliquid ab uno extremo, statim est sub altero ; sed 
distant [MS' differunt] propter extrema in se. Tanta 
ergo est distantia ista quantum est illud extremum quod 
est perfectius : illud est finitum ; ergo, etc. Con- 

firmatur, quia posse totaliter super terminum positivum 
hujus distantiae est posse super distantiam sive super 
transitum ab extremo in extremum ; ergo ex posse super 
istum transitum non sequitur infinitas, nisi sequatur ex 


nature after God does not exist of itself but is dependent 
upon Him ; neither is anything [viz. matter] presupposed 
in order to give it existence. Consequently, it is created. 
For if a first efficient cause exists, everything else receives 
its total being from it. Otherwise, these other beings 
would not be dependent upon it, nor could it really be 
the first efficient cause. But anything that receives its 
total being from another so that by its nature it has 
existence after non-existence, is created ; therefore, etc. 
If we understand nature as being prior to both existence 
and non-existence in this [viz. ontological] sense, then 
existence and non-existence are not termini of a change ; 
neither does “to be produced in this way” necessarily 
imply “to be changed”. 

Whatever is to be said of the antecedent of this argu- 
ment, the consequence remains unproved. When there 
is no interval between the extremes as is the case in a 
continuum, whose extremes are two points, it is how one 
extreme compares with the other that determines how 
“distant” it is said to be. Consequently, it will be as 
distant from, as it is greater than, the other. God, for 
example, is infinitely distant from even the greatest 
creature possible, not indeed because of any interval 
between the two, but because of the infinity of the one 
extreme. And so I argue that contradictories are distant 
from one another in virtue of the extremes themselves, 
and not by reason of some interval between them, for 
contradictories are immediate. No matter how little 
something departs from one extreme, it immediately 
comes under the other. In the present instance, then, 
there will be as much “distance” as there is [entity] in 
the more perfect extreme. But the latter is finite ; 
therefore, etc. This is confirmed, inasmuch as to possess 
complete power over the positive term of this “distance” 
is to have power over the distance or the passage from 
one extreme to the other. Infinity, therefore, cannot be 
inferred from the power of the agent to effect this transi- 



posse totaliter super terminum ejus positivum. Terminus 
ille est finitus ; ergo posse super transitum ad istum ter- 
minum non concludit virtutem activam infinitam 

Quod autem dicitur communiter, contradictoria dis- 
tare in infinitum, potest sic intelligi, id est, indeterminate ; 
quia sicut nulla est ita parva distantia quae non sufficiat 
ad contradictoria, sic nulla est ita magna, etiam si 
esset major maxima possibili, quin ad ilia contradictoria 
se extendere. Est igitur eorum distantia infinita, id est, 
indeterminata ad quamcumque scilicet magnam vel par- 
vam. Et ideo ex tali infinitate distantiae, id est, indeter- 
minata, non sequitur consequens de infinita potentia 
intensive, sicut nec sequitur ad minimam distantiam, in 
qua salvatur sic infinita distantia, id est, indeterminata ; 
et quod non sequitur ad antecedens, nec ad consequens. 
Contradictoria ergo maxima distantia est et oppositio, 
sed privative et indeterminate ; contrarietas vero est 
maxima positive, sicut patet decimo Metaphysicae* 

[Via Secunda]. Ostenso proposito per viam primae 
efficientiae, quia ilia prima efficientia infert infinitatem, 
sequitur secunda via ex hoc quod est intelligens distincte 
omnia factibilia, ubi arguo sic : Intelligibilia sunt 

infinita, et hoc actu in intellectu omnia intelligente. 
Ergo intellectus ista simul actu intelligens est infinitus. 
Talis est intellectus primi. 

Hujus enthymematis probo antecedens et conse- 
quentiam. Quaecunque sunt infinita in potentia, ita 
quod in accipiendo alterum post alterum nullum possunt 
habere finem, ilia omnia, si simul actu sunt, sunt actu 
infinita. Intelligibilia sunt hujusmodi respectu intel- 

x, cap. IV (1055°, 9). 



tion, unless it is already implied by its power to produce 
the positive extreme. But the latter, in the present case, 
is finite ; consequently, it is not demonstratively estab- 
lished that infinite power is required to effect such a 

Still, the common saying that “contradictories are 
infinitely distant” can be understood in the sense of 
“indeterminately”. For just as no “distance” is too small 
to produce a contradiction, so likewise, none is too great, 
even if it were greater than the greatest possible. There- 
fore this “distance” is infinite in the sense that it is not 
determined to any definite interval, howsoever great or 
small. Such an infinity or indeterminateness, then, does 
not imply the consequent about a power that is inten- 
sively infinite, just as the minimum distance characterised 
by such an infinity does not imply it. For what does not 
follow from the antecedent, does not follow from the con- 
sequent. Contradictories, therefore, are at the greatest 
“distance” and in the greatest opposition to each other, 
but privatively and indeterminately. Positively, how- 
ever, the greatest “distance” is between contraries, as is 
clear from Metaphysics, bk. x.* 

\b. Second Proof], Having established the proposed 
conclusion by the first way of efficiency inasmuch as the 
first efficient cause implies infinity, we proceed to the 
second, where, from the fact that the First Being knows 
distinctly everything that can be made, we argue as 
follows : The things that can be known are infinite in 
number. But they are all actually known by an intellect 
which knows all things. Therefore, that intellect is 
infinite which, at one and the same moment, has actual 
knowledge of all these things. Now such is the intellect 
of the First Being. 

I prove the antecedent and consequence of this enthy- 
meme. Things potentially infinite or endless in number, 
if taken one at a time, are actually infinite if they actually 
exist simultaneously. Now what can be known is of such 



lectus creati. Satis patet. Et in intellectu divino sunt 
simul omnia actu intellecta quae ab intellectu creato 
successive sunt intellecta. Ergo ibi sunt infinita actu 
intellecta. Hujus syllogismi probo majorem, licet satis 
evidens videatur, quia omnia talia acceptibilia quando 
sunt simul existentia, aut sunt actu finita aut sunt actu 
infinita. Si actu finita, ergo accipiendo alterum post 
alterum, tandem omnia possunt esse actu accepta. 
Ergo si non possunt esse omnia actu accepta, si talia actu 
simul sunt, sunt actu infinita. 

Consequentiam primi enthymematis sic probo : quia 
ubi pluralitas requirit vel concludit majorem perfec- 
tionem quam paucitas, ibi infinitas numeralis concludit 
infinitam perfectionem. Exemplum : posse ferre decern 
majorem perfectionem requirit virtutis motivae quam 
posse ferre quinque : ideo posse ferre infinita concludit 
infinitam virtutem motivam. Ergo in proposito, cum 
intelligere A sit aliqua perfectio, et intelligere B sit 
similiter alia perfectio, numquam intelligere idem est 
ipsius A et B et aeque distincte, ut duo intelligere essent, 
nisi perfectiones [AfiS perfectiores] duorum intelligere 
includuntur in illo uno eminenter, et sic de tribus, et 
ultra de infinitis. 

Consimiliter etiam quia de ipsa ratione intelligendi 
argueretur sicut de intellectu et actu argutum est : quia 
major perfectio concluditur in actu intelligendi ex 
pluralitate illorum quorum ratio intelligendi distincte, 
quia oportet quod includant eminenter perfectiones 
omnium propriarum operationum intelligendi, quarum 
quaelibet secundum propriam rationem aliquam per- 
fectionem ponit ; ergo infinitae concludunt infinitam. 

Secundo, juxta istam viam de intelligere primi pro- 
positum sic ostendo ; causa prima, cui secundum 


a nature so far as a created intellect is concerned, as is 
sufficiently clear. Now all that the created intellect 
knows successively, the divine intellect knows actually 
at one and the same time. Therefore, the divine intellect 
knows the actually infinite. I prove the major of this 
syllogism, although it seems evident enough. Consider 
these potentially infinite things as a whole. If they exist 
all at once, they are either actually infinite or actually 
finite. If finite, then if we take one after the other, 
eventually we shall actually know them all. But if we 
cannot actually know them all in this way, they will be 
actually infinite if known simultaneously. 

The consequence of this first enthymeme, I prove as 
follows. Whenever a greater number implies or requires 
greater perfection than does a smaller number, numerical 
infinity implies infinite perfection. For example, greater 
motive power is required to carry ten things than to carry 
five. Therefore, an infinite motive power is needed to 
carry an infinity of such things. Now in the point at 
issue, since to know A is one perfection and to know B 
also is another perfection, it follows that A and B as two 
equally distinct objects will never be known by one and 
the same act of knowledge unless the latter includes in a 
more eminent way these two perfections. The same holds 
for three objects, and so ad infinitum. 

A similar argument to that based on the intellect and 
the act of knowing could be constructed in regard to the 
reason for knowing ( ratio intelligendi) , 37 For the greater 
the number of things known distinctly through this 
medium of knowledge, the more perfect is the act of 
knowing since the act by which all things are known 
must include in a more eminent way the perfections of 
each proper act of knowledge, where each of these in- 
cludes some perfection proper to itself. Where the latter 
are infinite, therefore, infinite perfection is required. 

A second proof from the knowledge of the First Being 
in support of our thesis is this. Suppose a secondary 

( 2 , 322 ) 11 



ultimum suae causalitatis causa secunda aliquid per- 
fectionis addit in causando, non videtur sola posse ita 
perfectum effectum causare, sicut ipsa cum secunda, quia 
causalitas sola primae diminuta est respectu causalitatis 
ambarum ; ergo si illud quod natum est esse a causa 
secunda et prima simul sit multo perfectius a sola prima, 
secunda nihil perfectionis addit primae ; sed omne 
finitum omni finito addit aliquam perfectionem ; ergo 
talis causa prima est infinita. Ad propositum, notitia 
cujuscumque nata est gigni ab ipso sicut a causa proxima, 
et maxime ilia quae est visio sive intuitiva intellectio ; 
ergo si ilia alicui intellectui inest sine actione quacumque 
talis objecti, tantummodo ex virtute alterius objecti 
prioris, quod natum est esse causa superior respectu talis 
cognitionis, sequitur quod illud objectum superius est 
infinitum in cognoscibilitate, quia inferius nihil sibi addit 
in cognoscibilitate : tale objectum superius est natura 
prima, quia ex sola praesentia ejus apud intellectum 
primi, nullo alio objecto concomitante, est notitia 
cujuscumque objecti in intellectu ejus ; ergo nullum 
aliud intelligibile aliquid sibi addit in cognoscibilitate ; 
ergo est infinitum in cognoscibilitate sic, ergo est in 
entitate, quia unumquodque sicut se habet ad esse, sic 
ad cognoscibilitatem, ex secundo Metaphysicae* 

[Via Tertia]. Item, tertia via, scilicet ex parte finis 
arguitur sic : voluntas nostra omni finito aliquid aliud 
majus potest appetere et amare, sicut intellectus intelli- 
gere ; et videtur quod plus est inclinatio naturalis ad 
summe amandum bonum infinitum ; nam inde arguitur 
inclinatio naturalis ad aliquid in voluntate, quia ex se, 

"» cap. i (9936, 30-31). 


cause can add some perfection to the causality of the 
First Cause, even when the latter acts to the utmost of its 
power. In such a case, if the First Cause were to act 
alone, its effectiveness would seem to be less perfect 
than that of the two causes together. Therefore, if 
something which a secondary cause can produce together 
with the First Cause, can be done much more perfectly 
by the First Cause alone, the secondary cause adds no 
perfection to the first. But a finite thing always adds 
some perfection to what is finite. Hence, a first cause 
whose causality cannot be perfected is infinite. To apply 
this to the question at issue. Knowledge of any object 
is by its very nature apt to be engendered by that object 
as its proximate cause, and this is especially true of in- 
tuitive knowledge or vision. Therefore, if some intellect 
possesses such knowledge without any action on the part 
of the object known, but solely in virtue of some prior 
object which by nature is a higher cause of such know- 
ledge, it follows that the higher object is infinitely intelli- 
gible, because the lower object adds nothing to it in the 
way of cognoscibility. Now, the supreme nature is such 
a superior object, since in the absence of all other objects 
by the mere fact that it is present to the intellect of the 
First Being, it gives to that intellect a knowledge of every 
object without exception. Therefore, nothing else that 
can be known adds anything to this nature in the way of 
cognoscibility. Consequently, it is infinitely intelligible ; 
therefore, its entity is also infinite, for a thing can only 
be known to the extent that it has entity, according to 
Metaphysics, bk. n.* 

[c. Third Proof]. The fact that the First Being is also 
the ultimate end provides a third way of arguing to 
infinity. Our will can always love and seek something 
greater than any finite being, even as our intellect is 
always able to know more. And, what is more, there 
seems to be a natural inclination to love an infinite good 
to the greatest degree possible, because the free will of 



sine habitu, prompte et delectabiliter vult illud voluntas 
libera : ita videtur quod experimur actu amandi bonum 
infinitum : imo non videtur voluntas in alio perfecte quie- 
tari. Et quomodo non illud naturaliter odiret, si esset 
objectum sui objecti, sicut naturaliter odit non esse, 
secundum Augustinum, De libero arbitrio, libri [tertii] 
capitulo [octavo] * Videtur etiam si infinitum repug- 
naret bono, quod nullo modo quietaretur in bono sub 
ratione infiniti, nec in illud faciliter tenderet, sicut nec 
in repugnans suo objecto. Confirmabitur ilia ratio in 
sequenti via de intellectu. 

[Via Quarta]. Item quarto propositum ostenditur 
per viam eminentiae et arguo sic : eminentissimo incom- 
possibile est aliquid esse perfectius, sicut prius patet. 
Finito autem non est incompossibile esse aliquid per- 
fectius ; quare, etc. Minor probatur quia infinitum non 
repugnat enti ; sed omni finito magis est infinitum. 

Ad istud aliter arguitur, et est idem : cui non repugnat 
infinitum esse intensive, illud non est summe perfectum 
nisi sit infinitum, quia si est finitum potest excedi vel 
excelli, quia infinitum esse sibi non repugnat : enti non 
repugnat infinitas ; ergo perfectissimum ens est infini- 
tum. Minor hujus quae in praecedenti argumento 
accipitur, non videtur a priori ostendi ; quia sicut 
contradictoria ex rationibus propriis contradicunt, nec 
potest per aliquid manifestius hoc probari, ita non 
repugnantia ex rationibus propriis non repugnant, nec 
videtur posse ostendi, nisi explicando rationes ipsorum : 

* m, cap. vi, viii (Migne, P.L., xxxii, 1280, 1282). 


itself and without the aid of any habit promptly and 
delightfully loves this good, so that we seem to experi- 
ence an act of love for an infinite good. Indeed it seems 
that the will is not perfectly satisfied with anything else. 
And if such an infinite good were really opposed to the 
natural object of the will, why is it that the will does 
not naturally hate an infinite good, just as it naturally 
hates non-existence, according to Augustine in De libero 
arbitrio, m, viii ? * For it seems that if “infinite” and 
“good” were incompatible, then there would be no way 
in which the will could be satisfied in such a good, nor 
could it readily tend towards such a good just as it 
cannot readily tend towards anything which is opposed 
to its proper object. This argument will be confirmed in 
the following by a similar argument from the intellect. 

[ d . Fourth Proof]. The thesis is shown also by the 
way of eminence, and here I argue that it is incompatible 
with the idea of a most perfect being that anything should 
excel it in perfection, as has been previously explained. 
Now there is nothing incompatible about a finite thing 
being excelled in perfection ; therefore, etc. The minor 
is proved from this, that to be infinite is not incompatible 
with being ; but the infinite is greater than any finite 

Another formulation given to the same argument is 
this. That to which intensive infinity is not repugnant 
is not all perfect unless it be infinite, for to be infinite is 
compatible with it. And if it is finite, it can be exceeded 
or excelled. Now infinity is not repugnant to being, 
therefore the most perfect being is infinite. The minor 
of this proof, which was used in the preceding argument, 
cannot, it seems, be proven a priori. For, just as contra- 
dictories by their very nature contradict each other and 
their opposition cannot be made manifest by anything 
more evident, so also these terms [viz. “being” and 
“infinite”] by their very nature are not repugnant to 
each other. Neither does there seem to be any way of 



ens per nullius notius explicatur ; infinitum intelligimus 
per finitum, hoc vulgariter sic expono : infinitum est 
quod aliquod finitum datum secundum nullam habi- 
tudinem finitam praecise excedit, sed ultra omnem talem 
habitudinem assignabilem adhuc excedit. 

Sic tamen propositum suadetur : sicut quidlibet ponen- 
dum est possibile, cujus non apparet impossibilitas, ita 
et compossibile cujus non apparet incompossibilitas. Hie 
incompossibilitas nulla apparet quia de ratione entis non 
est finitas, nec apparet ex ratione entis quod sit passio 
convertibilis cum ente ; alterum istorum requiritur ad 
repugnantiam praedictam : passiones enim primae entis 
et convertibiles satis videntur notae sibi inesse. 

Item sic suadetur : infinitum suo modo non repugnat 
quantitati, id est, in accipiendo partem post partem ; 
ergo nec infinitum suo modo repugnat entitati, id est in 
perfectione simul essendo. 

Item, si quantitas virtutis est simpliciter perfectior 
quam quantitas molis, quare erit infinitum possibile in 
mole et non in virtute ? Quod si est possibilis, est in 
actu, sicut ex tertia conclusione patet supra de primitate 
effectiva et etiam inferius probabitur. 

Item, quare [MS quia] intellectus, cujus objectum est 
ens, nullam invenit repugnantiam intelligendo aliquod 
infinitum ; imo videtur perfectissimum intelligibile ? 
Mirum est autem, si nulli intellectui talis contradictio 
patens fiat circa primum ejus objectum, cum discordia 
in sono faciliter offendat auditum ; si enim disconveniens 


proving this except by explaining the meaning of the 
notions themselves. “Being” cannot be explained by 
anything better known than itself. “Infinite” we under- 
stand by means of finite. I explain “infinite” in a popular 
definition as follows : The infinite is that which exceeds 
the finite, not exactly by reason of any finite measure, but 
in excess of any measure that could be assigned. 

The following persuasive argument can be given for 
what we intend to prove. Just as everything is assumed 
to be possible, if its impossibility is not apparent, so also 
all things are assumed to be compatible, if their incom- 
patibility is not manifest. Now there is no incompati- 
bility apparent here, for it is not of the nature of being 
to be finite ; nor does finite appear to be an attribute 
coextensive with being. But if they were mutually 
repugnant, it would be for one of these reasons. The 
coextensive attributes which being possesses, seem to be 
sufficiently evident. 

Another persuasive argument adduced is this. Infinity, 
in its own way, is not opposed to quantity (that is, where 
parts are taken successively) ; therefore, neither is 
infinity, in its own way, opposed to entity (that is, 
where perfection exists simultaneously). 

Again, if the quantity characteristic of power is simply 
more perfect than that characteristic of mass, why is it 
possible to have an infinity [of small parts] in an [ex- 
tended] mass and not an infinite power ? And if an 
infinite power is possible, then it actually exists, as is 
evident from the third conclusion about the first efficient 
cause, and will also be proved again later . 38 

Again, why is it that the intellect, whose object is being, 
does not find the notion of something infinite repugnant? 
Instead of this, the infinite seems to be the most perfect 
thing we can know. Now, if tonal discord so readily 
displeases the ear, it would be strange if some intellect 
did not clearly perceive the contradiction between 
infinite and its first object [viz. being] if such existed. 



statim ut percipitur offendit, cur nullus intellectus ab 
intelligibili infinito naturaliter refugit sicut a non con- 
veniente, suum ita primum objectum destruentem ? 

Per illud potest colorari ilia ratio Anselmi de summo 
bono cogitabili, Proslogion,* et intelligenda est ejus 
descriptio sic. Deus est quo cognito sine contradictione 
majus cogitari non potest sine contradictione. Et quod 
addendum sit contradictione, patet : nam in cujus 

cognitione vel cogitatione includitur contradictio, illud 
dicitur non cogitabile, quia sunt tunc duo cogitabilia 
opposita nullo modo faciendo unum cogitabile, quia 
neutrum determinat alterum, ut quod homo sit irra- 
tionalis est incogitabile. Unde sicut in rebus nihil est 
nisi sit simplex vel compositum ex potentia et actu, ita 
in conceptibus. Contradictoria autem nihil faciunt unum 
nec simplex, nec compositum. 

Summum cogitabile praedictum, sine contradictione 
potest esse in re. Hoc probatur primo de esse quiddita- 
tibo : quia in tali cogitabili summo quiescit intellectus ; 
ergo in ipso est ratio primi objecti intellectus scilicet 
entis, et hoc in summo. 

Et tunc arguitur ultra, quod illud sit loquendo de 
esse existentiae. Summe cogitabile non est tantum in 
intellectu cogitante, quia tunc posset esse, quia cogitabile 
possibile, et non posset esse, quia repugnat rationi ejus 
esse ab aliqua causa, sicut patet prius in secunda con- 
clusione de via efficientiae. Majus ergo cogitabile est 

Cap. iii (Migne, P.L., clviii, 228). 


For if the disagreeable becomes offensive as soon as it 
is perceived, why is it that no intellect naturally shrinks 
from the infinitely intelligible as it would from something 
out of harmony with, and even destructive of, its first 
object ? 

In this same way Anselm’s argument in the Proslogion * 
about the highest conceivable good can be touched up. 
His description must be understood in this way. God is 
a being conceived without contradiction, who is so great 
that it would be a contradiction if a greater being could 
be conceived. That the phrase “without contradiction” 
must be added is clear, for anything, the very knowledge 
or thought of which includes a contradiction, is called 
“inconceivable”, for it includes two conceivable notions 
so opposed to each other that they cannot in any way 
be fused into a single conceivable object, since neither 
determines the other. Thus “man is irrational” cannot 
be conceived. Hence, just as in the world of reality 
nothing exists that is not either simple or at least com- 
posed of act [the determining element] and potency [the 
determinable element], so also with concepts. Contra- 
dictories, however, do not form a unity, be it simple or 

It follows then, that the greatest object conceivable 
without contradiction can actually exist in reality. This 
is proved first of its essential being, for in such an object 
the intellect is fully satisfied ; therefore, in it the primary 
object of the intellect, viz. “being”, is verified and this 
in the highest degree. 

It is further argued, then, that this being actually 
exists because the highest conceivable object is not one 
which is merely in the intellect of the thinker, for then 
it both could exist, because as something possible it is 
conceivable, and yet could not exist, because the idea of 
existing in virtue of some cause is repugnant to its very 
nature. This latter was shown above in the second con- 
clusion of the proof from efficiency . 39 Therefore, what 



quod est in re quam quod est tantum in intellectu. Non 
est autem hoc sic intelligendum, quod idem si cogitetur 
per hoc sit majus cogitabile si existat, sed omni quod est 
in intellectu tantum est majus aliquod quod existit. 

Vel aliter coloratur sic : majus cogitabile est quod 
existit, id est perfectius cognoscibile, quia visibile sive 
intelligibile intellectione intuitiva. Cum [read Quod 
autem] non existit, nec in se, nec in nobiliori, cui nihil 
addit, non est visibile. Visibile autem est perfectius 
cognoscibile non visibili, sed tantum modo intelligibili 
abstractive ; ergo perfectissimum cognoscibile existit. 
De differentia intellectionis intuitivae et abstractivae et 
quomodo intuitiva est perfectior, tangetur distinctione 
tertia * et alias quando locum habebit. 

[Via Inefficax]. Ultimo ostenditur propositum ex 
negatione causae extrinsecae [ read intrinsecae] ; quia 
materia finitur per formam, sicut potentia per actum et 
perfectionem et esse formae ejus. Et e converso forma 
finitur per materiam sicut actus per potentiam. Forma 
ergo quae non est nata esse in materia est infinita ; 
cujusmodi est Deus. 

Haec ratio non valet, quia secundum ipsos angelus 
est immaterialis ; ergo in natura est infinitus. Non pos- 
sunt dicere, quod esse angeli finiret essentiam ejus, quia 
secundum eos est accidens essentiae et posterius natura- 
liter ; et sic in primo signo naturae essentia secundum se 
ut prior esse, videtur infinita intensive, et per consequens 
in secundo signo naturae non erit finitabilis per esse. 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. hi, q. iii. 


exists in reality is conceivably greater than what exists 
only in the intellect. This is not to be understood, how- 
ever, in the sense that something conceived if it actually 
exists, is, by the fact of existing, conceivable to any 
greater extent. The meaning is that whatever exists is 
greater than whatever is solely in the intellect. 

Or the argument could be retouched in this way. 
Whatever exists is conceivable to a greater extent [than 
what does not] ; that is to say, it can be known more 
perfectly, because it is intuitively intelligible or visible. 
What does not exist either in itself or in something more 
noble to which it adds nothing, is not capable of being 
intuited. Now what can be seen is able to be known 
more perfectly than what can not be intuited, but known 
only abstractively. Therefore, the most perfect thing 
that can be known exists. The difference between in- 
tuitive and abstractive knowledge, and the superiority of 
the former over the latter, will be treated in distinction 
three and elsewhere as occasion offers . 40 

[e. An Ineffective Proof]. Finally, some 41 argue to 
the proposed conclusion from the absence of any intrinsic 
cause, for matter is determined by form as the potential 
is determined by act, perfection, and the existence of 
its form. Conversely, the form is limited by matter as 
act is limited by potency. Any form incapable of 
being in matter, therefore, is infinite. God is of such 

This reason does not hold, for according to these men , 42 
the angel is immaterial ; therefore, its nature is infinite. 
They cannot avoid this conclusion by saying that the 
existence of the angel limits its essence, for they maintain 
that existence is accidental to the essence and naturally 
posterior to it. And so in the first instance of nature , 43 
the essence, considered in its own right and as prior to 
existence, seems to be intensively infinite. Consequently, 
it cannot be limited by existence in the second instance 
of nature. 


Breviter respondeo ad argumentum : nam quaelibet 
entitas habet intrinsecum sibi gradum suae perfectionis, 
in quo est finitum, si est finitum, et in quo infinitum, si 
potest esse infinitum, et non per aliquid accidens sibi. 

Arguitur etiam : si forma finitur ad materiam, ergo 
si non ad illam, non finitur. Fallacia consequentis : 
sicut corpus finitur ad corpus ; igitur si non ad corpus, 
erit infinitum ; ultimum ergo coelum erit actu infinitum; 
sophisma est istud tertio Physicorum* quia sicut prius 
corpus in se prius finitur propriis terminis antequam ad 
aliquid aliud finiatur, ut de coelo, ergo ita forma finita 
prius est in se finita quam finiatur ad materiam, quia est 
tabs natura in entibus quod finitur, id est antequam unia- 
tur materiae ; nam secunda finitas praesupponit primam 
et non causat earn ; ergo in aliquo signo naturae erit 
essentia [angeli] finita ; ergo non finitur per esse ; ergo 
in secundo signo non finitur per esse. Breviter dico unam 
propositionem, quod quaecumque essentia absoluta 
finita in se, est finita ut praeintelligitur omni compara- 
tione sui ad aliam essentiam. 

[ Solutio Quaestionis ] 

Ex dictis patet solutio quaestionis : nam ex primo 
articulo habetur quod aliquod ens existens est simpliciter 
primum triplici primitate, videlicet efficientiae, finis et 
eminentiae, et ita simpliciter quod incompossibile est 
aliquid esse prius ; et in hoc probatum est esse de Deo 
quantum ad proprietates respectivas Dei ad creaturam, 
vel in quantum determinat dependentiam respectus 
creaturarum ad ipsum. Ex secundo articulo habetur 

III, cap. iv (203b 20-22). 


Briefly, then, I reply to the argument. If an entity is 
finite or infinite, it is so not by reason of something 
incidental to itself, but because it has its own intrinsic 
degree of finite or infinite perfection respectively. 

It is also argued that , 44 if form is limited with reference 
to matter, where there is no matter, there the form is 
infinite. This is the fallacy of asserting the consequent, 
just as is the following : a body is limited with reference 
to a body ; therefore, if a body is not limited with refer- 
ence to another body, it will be infinite ; hence, the 
outermost heaven will be actually infinite. This is the 
fallacy of Physics , bk. iii.* For, just as a body is first 
limited in itself by its own proper boundaries before it is 
limited with respect to anything else (as is the case with 
the heavens), so the finite form is first limited in itself 
before it is limited with respect to matter. That is to 
say, it is of such a nature that it is limited, and this, 
prior to any union with matter ; for the second limita- 
tion presupposes, and does not cause, the first. The 
finite character of the angelic essence, then, is something 
that is prior by nature to its existence. Consequently, 
it is not its subsequent existence that makes such an 
essence limited. To put the argument briefly in one 
sentence, I say that every finite essence is such absolutely 
and prior to any reference it may have to another essence. 

[ Solution of the Question ] 46 

The solution to the question, then, is clear from the 
foregoing, for the first article establishes the existence 
of some being that is simply first by the triple primacy of 
efficiency, finality and eminence, and is first in such an 
unqualified sense that it would be impossible for anything 
to be prior to it. This is to establish the existence of God 
so far as the divine properties that have reference to 
creatures are concerned, or in so far as creatures are 
dependent upon him. The second article shows in four 



quadruplex via quod illud primum est infinitum : primo 
videlicet, quia primum efficiens ; secundo, quia primum 
agens omnia factibilia, secunda via continet quatuor 
conclusiones de intelligere primi ; tertio, quia finis 
ultimus ; quarto, quia eminens. 

Juxta primam exclusa est quaedam via inutilis de 
creatione. Juxta secundam tangitur alia via de 
perfectione primi objecti et intellectualitate. Juxta 
quartam exponitur ratio Anselmi, Proslogion, Deus est 
quo majus cogitari non potest. Ultimo excluditur via 
inutilis ex immaterialitate inferens infinitatem. 

Ex praemissis conclusionibus probatis et ostensis, 
arguitur sic ad quaestionem : aliquod ens tripliciter 

primum in entibus existit in actu et illud tripliciter 
primum est infinitum ; ergo aliquod infinitum ens 
existit in actu, et istud est perfectissimum conceptibile et 
conceptus perfectissimus absolutus quern possumus 
habere de Deo naturaliter quod sit infinitus, sicut dicitur 
distinctione tertia.* Et sic probatum est Deum esse 
quantum ad conceptum vel esse ejus perfectissimum 
conceptibilem vel possibilem haberi a nobis de Deo. 

[Ad Argumenta Principalia] 

Ad argumenta hujus quaestionis : ad primum dico 
quod causa infinita activa ex necessitate naturae non 
compatitur aliquid sibi contrarium, sive sit ei contrarium 
aliquid formaliter \MS om. id est, secundum aliquod quod 
convenit sibi essentialiter] sive virtualiter, id est, secun- 
dum rationem effectus sui quem virtualiter includit ; 
utroque enim modo impediret quodlibet incompossibile 
suo effectui, sicut argutum est prius. 

Contra : numquid philosophi ponentes Deum agere 
ex necessitate naturae non ponebant esse aliquid malum 
* Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. m, q. i. 


ways that this First Being is infinite, first, because it is 
the first efficient cause ; secondly, because as first agent 
it knows all that can be made (this second way contains 
four conclusions regarding the knowledge of the first 
being) ; thirdly, because it is the last end ; and fourthly, 
because it is most excellent. 

In our treatise on the first way, we rejected as useless 
a certain argument regarding creation. With the second, 
we considered another way based on the perfection of 
the first object and its intelligibility. In connection with 
the fourth, we expounded the argument of Anselm in the 
Proslogion, cap. ii, namely that God is that, greater than 
which nothing can be thought. Finally, we rejected as 
useless the argument that would infer infinity from 

Having proved these conclusions, one can answer the 
question as follows. In the realm of beings there actually exists 
a being which has a triple primacy , and this being is infinite. 
Therefore, some infinite being actually exists. This notion of 
God as an infinite being is the most perfect absolute 
concept we can have of him, as we point out in dist. ill . 46 
Consequently, we prove that God, conceived under the 
most perfect aspect possible to us, actually exists. 

[Reply to the Arguments at the Beginning] 

To the first 47 of the arguments at the beginning of the 
question, I say that an infinite cause that acts by a neces- 
sity of nature would not suffer anything contrary to itself, 
whether such a thing be formally contrary (i.e. opposed 
to some essential perfection of the First Cause) or only 
virtually contrary (i.e. opposed to some effect which it 
includes virtually). For in either case, an infinite cause 
would impede anything incompatible with its effect, 
as the argument states above. 

To the contrary : Did not the philosophers who 

assumed that God acted out of a necessity imposed by 



in universo? Respondeo, sicut patuit probando Deum 
esse agens per cognitionem, non potuerunt salvare ali- 
quod malum fieri posse contingenter in universo, sed 
tantum unus ordo causarum produceret aliquid quod 
esset receptivum alicujus perfectionis ; alius autem ordo 
de necessitate produceret oppositum illius perfectionis, 
ita quod ista perfectio non posset tunc induci concur- 
rentibus omnibus causis, licet absolute productum ab 
aliquibus [ MS aliis quibus], consideretur secundum ratio- 
nem suae speciei, esset receptivum illius perfectionis, 
cujus oppositum necessario evenit ; ergo secundum eos 
sicut causae efficientes in una coordinatione necessario 
agunt, ita causae efficientes impedientes in alia coordina- 
tione necessario agunt impediendo. Unde aequali neces- 
sitate qua sol agit ad dissolvendum, agit Saturnus ad 
condensandum. Cum ergo omnis defectus materiae 
reducatur ad causas efficientes quae sunt defectuosae in 
virtute, si quaelibet causa efficiens agit necessario, tunc 
nihil defectus vel monstruositatis vel malitiae erit in 
universo quin necessario accidat. Quid autem possunt 
philosophi dicere de libero arbitrio nostro et malitia 
moris, dicendum est alias. 

Ad secundum dico, quod consequentia non valet. Ad 
probationem ostendo quod non est consimilis incom- 
possibilitas dimensionum in replendo locum et essen- 
tiarum in simul essendo ; non enim una entitas ita replet 
totam naturam entis quin cum ea posset stare alia entitas. 
Hoc autem non debet intelligi de repletione locali, sed 
quasi commensuratione essentiali ; sed una dimensio 
replet eumdem locum secundum ultimum capacitatis 
suae, itaque una entitas simul potest esse cum cum alia, 


his nature, also admit the existence of evil in the universe? 
As I have already made clear in proving that God acts 
with knowledge , 48 I reply that they could not consistently 
explain the contingent character of the evil in the uni- 
verse. All they could maintain would be that one order 
of causes could produce something capable of receiving 
a given perfection, whereas another order of necessity 
would produce the opposite of this perfection. In other 
words, if we considered all the causes actually concurring 
at that time, this perfection could not be induced at this 
particular moment. Absolutely speaking, however, if we 
consider not this particular event, but one similar in 
kind, then a thing produced by some of these causes 
could also be the recipient of a perfection which de facto 
was necessarily absent at this particular time. According 
to them, therefore, just as the efficient causes in one group 
act necessarily, so the impeding efficient causes of the 
other group act necessarily. The sun dissolves something, 
then, with the same necessity with which Saturn con- 
denses it. Therefore, since every defect of matter 
is due to a deficiency in the strength of the efficient 
causes, if each efficient cause acts necessarily, then 
every defect, monstrosity, or evil in the universe occurs 
necessarily. What the philosophers can say of our free 
will and moral evil, however, will have to be treated 

To the second argument , 49 I say that the consequence is 
invalid. As to the proof adduced in its favour, I show that 
there is no parity between the impossibility of several 
extended things filling the same place and several 
essences existing simultaneously. For no entity so fills 
the whole nature of being as to render impossible the 
coexistence of another. “Coexistence” in this latter case, 
however, should not be understood in the sense of filling 
a place, but rather as a kindofessentialcommensuration . 60 
The extension of one thing, however, fills any place to the 
utmost of its capacity. More than one entity, therefore, 

( 2 , 322 ) 12 



sicut posset respectu loci cum corpore replente locum esse 
aliud corpus non replens locum. Similiter alia conse- 
quentia non valet, quia corpus infinitum si esset cum alio, 
fieret totum majus utroque ratione dimensionum, quia 
dimensiones alterius corporis essent aliae a dimensionibus 
corporis infiniti et ejusdem rationis cum eis, et ideo totum 
esset majus propter dimensionum diversitatem, et totum 
non majus, quia dimensio infinita non potest excedi. 
Hie autem tota quantitas infinitae perfectionis nullam 
additionem recipit in ratione talis quantitatis ex coexis- 
tenti alicujus finiti secundum talem qualitatem. 

Ad tertium dico, quod consequentia non valet, nisi 
illud quod demonstratur in antecedente, a quo alia 
separantur, sit finitum. Exemplum : si esset aliquod ubi 
infinitum per impossibile, et corpus infinitum replet illud 
ubi, non sequeretur : hoc corpus est hie, ita quod non 
alibi ; ergo est finitum secundum ubi, quia ly hie non 
demonstrat nisi infinitum. Item, secundum Philoso- 
phum, si motus esset infinitus et tempus infinitum, non 
sequitur : iste motus est in hoc tempore et non in alio ; 
ergo est finitum secundum tempus. Ita ad propositum, 
oporteret probare illud quod demonstratur per ly hoc esse 
finitum. Quod si assumatur, petitur conclusio in prae- 

Ad ultimum dico, quod Philosophus infert moveri in 
non-tempore ex hoc antecedente, quod potentia infinita 
est in magnitudine, et intelligit in consequente moveri 
proprie, ut distinguitur contra mutationem, et hoc modo 
consequens includit contradictionem, et etiam antece- 
dens, secundum eum. Qualiter autem teneat ilia conse- 
quentia, sic declaro : si potentia est infinita et agit ex 


can exist at once, even though one body cannot fill a place 
already occupied by another. The other consequence is 
also invalid, for if an infinite body were to coexist with 
another body, the reason the combination of the two 
would be greater than either taken singly lies in the 
nature of extension, for the dimensions of this other body 
would be different from those of the infinite body and 
still they would be qualitatively the same. Therefore, 
the union of two extended bodies implies an increase in 
extension because of the distinct dimensions and yet the 
sum total could not represent an increase, because an 
infinite extension cannot be exceeded. In our case, 
however, the total amount of infinite perfection is not 
increased quantitatively by the coexistence of some 
qualitatively similar finite entity. 

To the third 51 argument, I say that the consequence does 
not hold unless, in the antecedent, the thing singled out 
from all the others is something finite. For example, 
to assume the impossible, if an infinite place were occupied 
by an infinite body, it still would not follow that this body 
is “here” in such a way that it is nowhere else, because 
the word “here”, in this case, only designates what is 
infinite. Then too, according to the Philosopher , 62 if 
motion and time were infinite, from the proposition “this 
motion is at this time and not at another”, it does not 
follow that motion is finite in duration. Consequendy, 
if the desired conclusion is to be established, it would be 
necessary to prove that whatever is designated by the 
word “this” is finite. To assume it simply begs the 

To the last 53 argument, I say that the Philosopher argues 
that if the antecedent be true (viz. that some power is of 
infinite magnitude), it would move instantaneously, where 
he understands “moves” in the proper sense as different 
from mutation. In this sense, according to him, the con- 
sequent as well as the antecedent is self-contradictory. I 
will show, however, how this consequence could be made 



necessitate naturae, ergo agit in non-tempore. Quia si 
agat in tempore, sit illud A, et accipiatur alia virtus finita 
quae in tempore finito agit, sit illud B ; et augmentetur 
virtus finita quae est B secundum proportionem illam 
quae est B ad A. Puta, si A ]_MS B] est centuplum vel 
milletuplum ad B [MS A], accipiatur virtus centupla ad 
illam virtutem finitam datam, vel milletupla. Igitur ilia 
virtus sic augmentata movebit in A tempore, et ita 
virtus ilia et infinita in aequali tempore movebunt, 
quod est impossibile, si virtus infinita movet secundum 
ultimum potentiae suae et necessario. Ex hoc ergo quod 
virtus est infinita sequitur quod si agat ex necessitate, 
agit non in tempore. Ex hoc autem quod ponitur in 
antecedente, quod est in magnitudine sequitur si agit 
circa corpus quod proprie moveat illud corpus, quod 
loquitur de virtute extensa per accidens. Tabs autem 
virtus si ageret circa corpus, haberet partes hujus corporis 
diversimode distantes respectu ejus : puta unam partem 
corporis propinquiorem et aliam remotiorem ; habet 
etiam resistentiam aliquam in corpore, circa quod agit, 
quae duae causae, scilicet resistentia et diversa approxi- 
mate partium mobilis ad ipsum movens, faciunt succes- 
sionem esse in motu et corpus proprie moveri. Ergo ex 
hoc quod in antecedente illo ponitur virtus in magni- 
tudine sequitur quod proprie movebit, et ita jungendo 
ilia duo simul, scilicet quod est infinitum et quod est in 
magnitudine, sequitur quod [MS' om. proprie] in non- 
tempore movebit, quod est contradictio. Sed istud non 
sequitur de virtute infinita quae non est in magnitudine, 
ipsa enim licet in non-tempore agat, si in non-tempore 
agit, quia hoc sequitur infinitatem, tamen non proprie 


to hold. If a power is infinite and acts by necessity of 
nature, then it acts instantaneously. If it were to act in 
time, let us call this time A. Now take another finite 
power, which acts in the finite time B. Then let the 
finite power, which acts in B time, be increased by the 
amount that A exceeds B , e.g. if A is one hundred or one 
thousand times as great as B, let the finite power be 
increased a hundred — or a thousand fold. Now, this 
increased power would act in A time. Consequently, 
this finite power would act in the same time as the in- 
finite, which is impossible if the infinite power moves 
necessarily and to the utmost of its ability. Therefore, 
if an infinite power acts necessarily, it follows that it 
acts instantaneously. On the other hand, however, if 
we assume, as the antecedent does, that this power has 
magnitude, i.e. is extended accidentally, then it follows 
that if it acts on a body, it moves this body in the proper 
sense of moving. But if such a power acted upon a 
body, it would be at unequal distance from the different 
parts of this body, that is, one part of the body would 
be closer, whereas another would be farther away. 
Then, too, this power would meet with some resistance 
in the body on which it acts. Now these two causes 
(viz. resistance and the difference in distance between 
the mover and the various parts of the thing moved) 
give rise to succession in motion and, therefore, cause 
the body to be moved in the proper sense of that term. 
From the fact, then, that we assume in the antecedent 
a power with magnitude, it follows that it moves in the 
proper sense, and thus by combining these two notions 
simultaneously, namely that it is infinite and that it has 
magnitude , 64 it follows that it moves in the strict sense 
of the term and, nevertheless, does so instantaneously, 
which is a contradiction. This contradiction, however, 
does not follow from the notion of an infinite power which 
has no magnitude. For although it would act instan- 
taneously, were it infinite and necessarily acting, still it 



movebit, quia non habebit in passo illas duas rationes 
successionis. Non igitur vult Philosophus quod infinita 
potentia proprie moveat in non-tempore, sicut argu- 
mentum procedit, sed quod infinita potentia in magni- 
tudine proprie moveat et non in tempore, quae sunt 
contradictoria. Et ex hoc sequitur quod tabs antecedens 
includit contradictoria, scil. quod virtus infinita sit in 

Sed tunc est dubitatio : cum potentiam motivam 

ponat infinitam et naturaliter agentem, videtur sequi 
quod necessario ageret in non-tempore ; licet non moveat 
in non-tempore ; imo tunc nihil movebit aliud proprie 
loquendo. Et quod hoc sequatur patet : quia illud 
probatum fuit prius per rationem potentiae infinitae 
necessario agentis. 

Respond et Averroes duodecimo Metaphysicae,* quod 
praeter primum movens, quod est infinitae potentiae, 
requiritur movens conjunctum potentiae finitae, ita quod 
ex primo movente sit infinitas motus et ex secundo sit 
successio, quia aliter non posset esse successio nisi con- 
curreret illud finitum, quia si solum infinitum ageret, 
ageret in non-tempore. Illud improbatur distinctione 
octava quaestione ultima,! ubi in hoc arguitur contra 
philosophos, qui ponunt primum agere ex necessitate 
quidlibet quod immediate agit. 

Sed Christianis non est argumentum difficile, qui 
dicunt Deum contingenter agere. Ipsi enim possunt 
faciliter respondere, quia licet virtus infinita necessario 
agens agat secundum ultimum sui, et ita in non-tempore, 
quidquid immediate agit, non tamen virtus infinita 
contingenter et libere agens ; sicut enim est in potestate 
ejus agere vel non agere, ita est in potestate ejus in 

* xir, com. 41. t Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. vm, q. v, nn. 3, 8 ff. 



would not move, properly speaking, since the two reasons 
for succession would be absent in that on which it acts. 
The Philosopher, therefore, does not mean that an infinite 
power would move instantaneously as the argument 
assumes, but that a power infinite in magnitude, though 
it is not in time, nevertheless moves in the proper sense, 
which is a contradiction. From this it follows that such 
an antecedent includes contradictory notions, namely a 
power infinite in magnitude. 

But a doubt arises. Since an infinite motive power 
acting of necessity is assumed, it would seem to follow 
necessarily that this power acts instantaneously, even 
though it may not move instantaneously. Consequently, 
it follows further, that no agent will move another 
properly speaking. That this would follow is clear from 
what was just proved above regarding an infinite 
necessarily acting power. 

Averroes in Metaphysics, bk. xii,* replies that it is not 
enough simply to have an infinitely powerful First 
Mover. What is further required is that this First 
Mover and some additional finite power co-operate in 
such a way that the infinity of the motion is due to the 
First Mover, whereas the succession is due to the other. 
Without the co-operation of some finite mover, succession 
would be impossible ; for if only the infinite agent acted, 
ii would act instantaneously. This solution will be dis- 
proved in the last question of distinction eight f where the 
philosophers who assume that whatever the First Cause 
does immediately, it does with necessity, are attacked. 

But for Christians, who say that God acts contingently, 
the objection presents no difficulty, since they can answer 
it with ease. For, even if an infinite power which acts 
necessarily and to the utmost of its power, does instan- 
taneously whatever it does immediately, this is not true 
of an infinite power which acts freely and contingently. 
As it is in the power of such an agent either to act or not 
to act, so it has the power either to act in time or to act 



tempore agere vel in non-tempore agere ; et ita facile 
est salvare primum movere corpus in tempore, licet sit 
infinitae potentiae, quia non necessario agit nec secun- 
dum ultimum potentiae quantum scilicet posset agere, 
neque in tarn brevi tempore in quam brevi posset agere. 



instantaneously. Consequently, it is easy to defend the 
position that the First Cause moves a body in time even 
if it be of infinite power, for it does not act necessarily 
neither to the full extent of its power nor in as short a 
time as it could. 



Summary of the Argument 
Question : Is there but one God ? 

Pro et Contra 

Body of the Question 

First opinion : The unicity of God is known only by faith 

Scotus’s opinion : Natural reason can prove the unicity of 

First proof : 
Second proof : 
Third proof : 
Fourth proof : 
Fifth proof : 
Sixth proof : 
Seventh proof : 

From the infinite intellect 
From the infinite will 
From the infinite goodness 
From the infinite power 
From absolute infinity 
From necessity of existence 
From the omnipotence 

Reply to the arguments for the first opinion 
Reply to the Arguments at the beginning 




Quaero ulrum sit tantum unus Dens ? 

[Pro et Contra] 

Et quod non arguitur : 

Quorum dicuntur multi domini et dii multi. f 

Item, si Deus est, ergo dii sunt. Probatur consequentia, 
quia singulare et plurale idem significant, licet differant 
in modo significandi ; ergo idem includit praedicatio 
proportionaliter accepta ; ergo sicut singulare includit 
singulare, ita plurale includit plurale. Probatur secundo 
[MS tertio], quia sicut Deus est quo majus cogitari non 
potest, ita dii sunt quibus majores cogitari non possunt. 
Ilia autem quibus majora cogitari non possunt sunt in 
effectu. Quod videtur, quia si non essent in effectu, 
possent cogitari majora eis ; ergo, etc. 

Praeterea, omne ens per participationem reducitur ad 
aliquid tale per essentiam. Individua in quacumque 
specie creata sunt entia per participationem, alioquin 
non essent multa ; ergo reducuntur ad aliquid tale per 
essentiam. Ergo est aliquis homo, aliquis bos per essen- 
tiam, etc. Quidquid autem est per essentiam, non per 
participationem, est Deus ; ergo, etc. 

Item, plura bona sunt paucioribus meliora. Sed quae- 
cumque meliora sunt ponenda in universo ; ergo, etc. 

Item, quidquid si est, est necesse esse, est simpliciter 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. n, q. iii (Assisi 137, f. i8r&-i9r& ; cf. Vives, 
vol. vm, 487 a -50i a ). t 1 Cor. vm. 5. 




I ask whether there is but one God? 

[Pro et Contra] 

Some argue there is not merely one God 1 : 

[Arg. 1]. “For indeed there are many gods and many 

[Arg. n]. Also, if God exists, then gods exist. Proof of 
the consequence : (1) Singular and plural signify the 
same, although they differ in the way in which they do 
so. Therefore, the predication proportionately implies 
the same. As the singular mode then implies a singular 
thing, so the plural implies several things . 2 (2) Just as 
God is that greater than which nothing can be conceived, 
so gods are those greater than which nothing can be 
thought. Things that could not be conceivably greater, 
however, actually exist. This is clear from the fact that 
if they did not actually exist, we could think of something 
greater than they. Therefore, etc. 

[Arg. m]. Furthermore, everything which is a being 
by participation can be traced back to something which 
is such by its very essence . 3 Now the individuals in any 
created species are beings by participation ; otherwise 
more than one individual per species would not exist. 
Therefore, they can be traced back to something which is 
such by its very essence. Consequently, there is some man 
who is by his essence, some ox which is by its essence, and 
so on. Now whatever is by its essence and not by par- 
ticipation is God. Therefore, etc. 

[Arg. iv]. Likewise, a greater number of good things 
is better than a lesser number . 4 But we should assume 
the best to exist in the universe. Therefore, etc. 

[An additional argument ]. 5 Also, whatever is a 



necesse esse ; sed alius Deus si est, est necesse esse ; ergo, 
etc. Major probatur : da oppositum praedicati “non est 
necesse esse simpliciter”, et sequitur oppositum subjecti 
quod scilicet si est, est possibile esse et non necesse esse. 
Respondeo : Debet inferri oppositum subjecti sic, “ non 
est necesse esse, si est”, ubi negetur habitudo inter ante- 
cedens et consequens. 

Contra : 

Deuter. 6.* Audi Israel : Dominus Deus tuus Deus 
unus est ; et Is.] : Extra me non est Deus. 

[Corpus Quaestionis] 

In ilia quaestione conclusio est certa ; sed dicunt 
aliqui quod haec conclusio non est demonstrabilis, sed 
tantum accepta per fidem. Et ad hoc sequitur auctoritas 
Rabbi Moysi, xxiii cap.,] quod unitas Dei accepta est a 
Lege. Hoc etiam arguitur per rationem, quia si per 
naturalem rationem posset cognosci Deum esse unicum, 
ergo posset cognosci Deum esse singularem naturaliter ; 
ergo posset cognosci singularitas Dei et essentia ut 
singularis, quod falsum est et supra [ read contra] prius 
dictum est in quaestione de subjecto theologiae. 

[Opinio Scoti ] 

Videtur tamen quod ilia unitas posset naturali ratione 
ostendi ; et hoc sumendo viam primo ex infinito 

* Deut. vi. 4. t Isaias, xlv. 5. 

} Doctor perplexorum, 1, cap. lxxv. 



necessary being, if it exist, is necessary being without 
qualification. But if another God exists, He is a necessary 
being. Therefore, etc. Proof of the major : If you grant 
the opposite of the predicate (viz. “[it] is not necessary 
being without qualification”), the opposite of the subject 
follows (viz. “It is not necessary but only possible being, 
if it exists”). — Reply : The opposite of the subject which 
is to be inferred is this. “It is not a necessary being, if it 
exists.” Here, then, the relation between antecedent and 
consequent may be denied. 

To the contrary : 

In Deuteronomy * we read : “Hear O Israel, the Lord our 
God is one Lord”, and in Isaias f : “There is no God 
besides me”. 

[Body of the Question] 

In this question, the conclusion is certain. 

[ First Opinion ] 

Some say , 6 however, that the unicity of God cannot be 
demonstrated but is accepted only on faith. And in this 
they follow the authority of Rabbi Moses [Maimonides] % 
who says that it is known from the Law that God is one. 
Reason supports this view, for if the mind by its natural 
powers could know that God is one, then it could also 
know naturally that God is singular. In this case, natural 
reason could know the singularity of God and could also 
know the essence of God as singular, which is false and 
contradicts what was said in the question about the 
subject of theology . 7 

[Scotus’s Opinion ] 

Nevertheless, it seems that natural reason could estab- 
lish the unicity of God by arguing from (1) the infinite 



intellectu ; secundo ex infinita voluntate ; tertio ex 
infinita bonitate ; quarto ex ratione infinitae potentiae ; 
quinto ex ratione infiniti absolute ; sexto ex ratione 
necesse esse ; septimo ex ratione omnipotentiae. 

[ Prima Via], Ex parte intellectus infiniti arguitur sic 
primo. Intellectus infinitus cognoscit intelligibile quod- 
cumque perfectissime quantum est intelligibile in se ; 
ergo si sunt dii, sint A et B. A cognoscit B perfectissime, 
quantum scilicet B est cognoscibile : sed hoc est impos- 
sible. Probatio : quia aut cognoscit B per essentiam B, 
aut non. Si non, et B est cognoscibile per essentiam, 
ergo non cognoscit B perfectissime et quantum scilicet 
est cognoscibile. Nihil enim cognoscibile per essentiam 
perfectissime cognoscitur, nisi cognoscitur per essen- 
tiam suam, vel per aliquid perfectius includens essentiam 
suam quam ipsa sit in se. Essentia autem B in nullo 
perfectius includitur quam in B, quia tunc B non esset 
Deus. Si autem cognoscit B per essentiam ipsius B, ergo 
actus ipsius A est posterius naturaliter essentia ipsius B, 
et ita A non erit Deus. Quod autem actus ipsius A sit 
posterior ipso B probatio, quia omnis actus cognoscendi 
qui non est idem objecto est posterior objecto ; neque 
enim prior neque simul natura est actus cum aliquo alio 
ab actu, quia tunc actus posset intelligi sine objecto, sicut 

Si dicatur quod ilia intelligit B per essentiam ipsius A, 
quae simillima est ipsi B, sic videlicet quod A intelligit B 
in ratione speciei communis ipsi A et ipsi B. Contra : 
neutra salvat responsio quod A intelligat B perfectissime, 
et per consequens non est Deus, quia cognitio alicujus in 
simili tantum, et in universali non est cognitio per- 
fectissima et intuitiva ipsius rei, et ita A non cognosceret 
B intuitive nec perfectissime, quod est propositum. 



intellect, (2) the infinite will, (3) the infinite goodness, 
(4) the infinite power, (5) the notion of infinity considered 
absolutely, (6) the nature of necessary being, and (7) 

\First Proof], The first argument, based on the infinite 
intellect, is this. Such an intellect knows whatever can 
be known in the most perfect way that it could be known. 
Suppose then that two gods existed, let us call them A 
and B. A, therefore, would know B as perfectly as B 
could be known. This, however, is impossible. Proof : 
Either A knows B through the essence of B or not. If not, 
and B can be known through its essence, then A knows B 
neither in the most perfect manner nor to the extent that 
B can be known. For nothing that can be known through 
its essence is perfectly known unless it be known either 
through its essence or through something which includes 
the essence in a more perfect way than the latter exists 
in itself. But the essence of B is not included in anything 
more perfect than B, for it it were, B would not be God. 
But if A knows B through the latter’s essence, then A’s 
act of knowledge is posterior to the essence of B and 
therefore A would not be God. I prove that in such a 
case A’s act would be posterior to B in this fashion. Every 
act of knowing not identical with its object is posterior 
to that object. For an act by nature is simultaneous only 
with itself. Neither is it prior to its object, for then the 
act could be known without the object and vice versa. 

But suppose we say that A through its own essence 
knows B because of the great similarity between the two, 
so that A knows B through some nature common to 
A and B. To the contrary : This answer saves neither 
of these two points : viz. (1) that A knows B most per- 
fectly, and therefore, (2) that A is God. For any such 
knowledge that is merely general and in virtue of some 
likeness is neither perfect nor intuitive. Consequently, 
A would not know B intuitively or most perfectly, which 
is what we set out to prove. 

( 2 , 321 ’; 




Secundo ex parte inteliectus arguitur sic, unica intel- 
lectio non potest habere duo objecta adaequata, A est 
objectum adaequatum suae intellectioni, quia A habet 
pro objecto adaequato essentiam suam ; ergo non habet 
essentiam B pro objecto adaequato. Esset autem B 
objectum adaequatum intellectioni A, si posset simul 
intelligere perfecte A et B. Major patet, quia aliter 
actus adaequatur objecto, quo abstracto, non minus 
quietaretur et adaequaretur, et ita frustra esset tale 

[Secunda Via] . Quantum ad secundam viam arguitur 
sic : Voluntas infinita est recta ; ergo diligit quodlibet 
diligibile quantum est diligibile, et quanto amore potest 
si sit infinitum. B autem est diligendus in infinitum cum 
ponitur esse alius Deus. Et per consequens sit bonum 
infinitum et infinite a voluntate sic potenter diligere 
diligendum ; ergo voluntas A diligit B infinite : sed hoc 
est impossible, quia A naturaliter diligit plus se quam B. 
Probatio : quilibet enim naturaliter plus [MS prius] esse 
suum quam esse alterius, cujus non est pars vel effectus. 
A autem nihil est ipsius B nec ut pars nec ut effectus ; ergo 
plus diligit A se naturaliter quam ipsum B. Sed voluntas 
libera, quando est recta, conformatur voluntati naturali, 
alioquin voluntas naturalis non esset semper recta ; 
ergo A si habet istam voluntatem rectam, actu elicito 
plus diligit se quam B, ergo non B infinite. 

Secundo sic de voluntate : aut A fruitur B aut utitur. 
Si utitur eo, ergo habet A voluntatem inordinatam. Si 
fruitur B et fruitur A, ergo A est beatus in duobus 
objectis, quorum neutrum dependet ab alio, quia sicut 
A beatus est in se, sic et in B ; sed consequens est im- 
possible, quia nihil potest esse actu beatum in duobus 



A second argument based on the intellect is this. One 
and the same act of intellection cannot have two adequate 
objects. Now A is its own adequate object of intellection, 
for the essence of A is the adequate object of A’s intellec- 
tion. Consequently B’s essence is not its adequate object. 
But if A could know perfectly both itself and B at 
one and the same time, then B would be an adequate 
object of d’s intellection. The major is evident, for 
otherwise the intellect could be perfectly satisfied and 
have all that it is capable of even though its adequate 
object were non-existent. Such an object, consequently, 
would be useless. 

[ Second Proof ]. A second way is this. Any will that 
is infinite wills things the way they should be willed. 
Therefore, it loves whatever is lovable to the extent that 
it is lovable. If the object is infinitely lovable, then such 
a will loves it to the utmost of its ability. But since B 
is assumed to be another God, it must be loved infinitely. 
Consequently, B inasmuch as it is infinitely good must 
be loved infinitely by any power capable of infinite love. 
The will of A, then, loves B infinitely. Now this is 
impossible since A naturally loves itself more than B . 8 
Proof : Everything naturally loves its own being more 

than any other if it is neither a part nor an effect of this 
other. But A is neither a part nor the effect of B ; there- 
fore A loves itself naturally more than B. But a free will 
that loves things as they should be loved conforms itself 
to this natural will ; otherwise the natural will would 
not always be as it should be. Therefore, if A wills as it 
should, then it elicits a greater act of love for itself than 
for B and hence does not love B infinitely. 

A second argument based on the will runs as follows. 
Either A finds its happiness in B or it simply uses B. If 
it merely uses B, then A’s love is inordinate . 9 If it finds 
its happiness in B as well as in itself, then A is beatified 
by two distinct objects, neither of which depends upon 
the other, for A is made just as happy by B as it is by itself. 



objectis beatificantibus totalibus. Probatio : quia 

utroque destructo, nihilominus esset beatus ; ergo in 
neutro est beatus. 

[Tertia Via ] . De tertia via, scilicet de ratione infiniti 
[boni], arguitur sic : voluntas ordinate potest appetere 
majus bonum et magis amare majus bonum. Sed plura 
bona infinita, si sint possibilia, plus includunt bonitatis 
quam unum infinitum ; ergo voluntas ordinate plus 
posset amare plura infinita quam unum, et per con- 
sequens in nullo uno objecto infinito quietaretur. Sed 
hoc est contra rationem boni quod sit infinitum et non 
quietativum cujuscumque voluntatis. 

[ Quarta Via], Quantum ad quartam viam de potentia 
infinita arguo sic : non possunt esse duae causae totales 
ejusdem effectus in eodem ordine causae ; sed infinita 
potentia est causa totalis respectu cujuscumque effectus 
in ratione primae causae ; ergo nulla alia potest esse in 
ratione causae primae respectu alicujus effectus, et ita 
nulla alia causa infinita in potentia. Primam proposi- 
tionem probo : quia tunc posset aliquid esse causa 

alicujus a quo illud non dependeret. Probatio : a nullo 
aliquid dependet essentialiter, quo non existente, 
nihilominus esset ; sed si C habet duas causas totales 
A et B, et in eodem ordine, utroque eorum non existente, 
nihilominus esset ipsum C ab altero eorum, quia non 
existente A, nihil minus est ipsum C ab ipso B et non 
existente B, nihil minus est C ab A. 

Juxta illud arguitur de unitate cujuscumque primi 
in quacumque primitate praedicta. Nihil enim est 
excessum a duobus primo excedentibus ; vel finitum 
essentialiter ordinatur [MS' ordinantur] ad duos primos 
fines. Esset [MS essent] enim aliquid ad finem, quo non 



But the consequent is impossible, for nothing finds its 
complete happiness in each of two objects . 10 Proof : 
Either object could be destroyed and nevertheless the 
being would still be happy. Therefore in neither object 
is it completely happy. 

[ Third. Proof ]. The third way, based on the notion of 
the infinite good, is this. It is proper for a will to seek 
the greater good and love it more ardently. But if more 
than one thing could be infinitely good, then together 
they would contain more goodness than a single infinite 
good. An orderly will, consequently, could not be 
perfectly satisfied with but one infinite good. Yet to be 
unable to satisfy perfectly any will whatsoever contradicts 
the very notion of an infinite good. 

[ Fourth Proof]. My fourth argument, from infinite 
power, is this. Two causes of the same order cannot each 
be the total cause of the same effect. But an infinite 
power is the total primary cause of every single effect 
that exists. Therefore, no other power can be the total 
primary cause of any effect. Consequently, no other 
cause is infinite in power. My proof of the first proposi- 
tion : If this proposition did not hold, then a thing 

could be the cause of something which does not depend 
upon it. Proof : Nothing depends essentially on any- 

thing if it could exist even when this other is non-existent. 
But if C has two total causes, A and B, each of which is 
in the same order, then either could be non-existent and 
still C would continue to exist in virtue of the other. 
For if A were non-existent, C would still exist by reason 
of B and if B were non-existent, C would exist by reason 
of A. 

This argument can be used to establish the unicity 
of any of the primacies mentioned above [viz. efficiency, 
finality and eminence ]. 11 What exists for the sake of an 
end is never essentially ordered to two ultimate ends, 
for then, as we argued above, it would exist for the sake 
of something which, as non-existent, would still be the 



existente, nihil minus esset finitum, ut prius argutum 
est ; et excessum esset essentialiter ab alicjuo, quo non 
existente, nihil minus haberet essentiale excedens, quo 
mensuraretur essentialiter et a quo acciperet suam 
perfectionem essentialiter : quod est impossibile ; ergo 
impossibile est aliquorum duorum infinitorum duos esse 
fines primos vel duorum excessorum duo prima eminentia. 

[Quinta Via ] . De quinta via dico, quod infinitum non 
potest excedi, et arguo sic ; quaecumque perfectio potest 
numerari in diversis plus perfectionis habet in pluribus 
quam in uno, sicut dicitur viii De Trinitate, c. i* ; ergo 
infinitum omnino in pluribus numerari non potest. 

[Sexta Via], De sexta via primo arguo sic : species 
plurificabilis scilicet in individuis non determinatur ex 
se ad certum numerum individuorum, sed quantum est 
ex se compatitur infinitatem individuorum, sicut patet 
in speciebus omnibus corruptibilibus ; ergo si ratio 
necesse esse sit plurificabilis in individuis, non determi- 
nat se ad certum numerum, sed compatitur infinitatem 
quantum est ex se. Sed si possent esse infinita necesse 
esse, sunt infinita necesse esse ; ergo, etc. Consequens 
est falsum ; ergo et antecedens ex quo sequitur. 

Ista ratio in alia forma fiat ex ratione primitatis sic : 
Unum unius rationis se habens ad plura unius rationis 
non determinatur ad illam pluralitatem sive ad deter- 
minationem certam illorum. Non est instantia in natura 
respectu suppositorum nec in causa respectu causatorum, 
nisi instes in proposito. Sed deitas erit unum unius ra- 

vin, cap. i (Migne, P.L., xlii, 947-948). 



end for whose sake the other exists. Neither is anything 
excelled to the ultimate degree by two most perfect 
beings, for then something could be non-existent and 
still excel something either as its essential measure of 
perfection or as that from which it receives its essential 
perfection. This, however, is impossible. It is not pos- 
sible, then, that two infinite beings should be ultimate 
ends, or that of two more perfect beings, both should 
be the most excellent. 

[ Fifth Proof \. As to the fifth way, I say that what is 
absolutely infinite, cannot be excelled. And I argue thus. 
Any perfection that can exist in numerically different 
things is more perfect if it exist in several than if it exist 
merely in one, as [Augustine] points out in De Trinitate, 
bk. viii, c. i.* Therefore, what is absolutely infinite 
cannot be found in several numerically different things. 

[Sixth Proof], The sixth way that I argue is this. A 
species which can be multiplied in more than one 
individual, is not of itself determined to any certain 
number of individuals but is compatible with an infinity 
of individuals. This is evident in the case of all perish- 
able species. Therefore, if the perfection of necessary 
existence can be multiplied in more than one individual, 
it is not of itself restricted to any certain number, but is 
compatible with infinity. But if an infinity of necessary 
beings can exist, they do exist. Therefore, etc. The 
consequence is false ; hence the antecedent is also false. 

This argument can be reformulated on the basis of 
[God’s] primacy as follows. One thing of a given kind 
is not related to others of its kind in such a way that 
it is limited to just this plurality or to a certain number 
of such things. There is nothing in the nature itself 
which requires that there be just so many individuals, 
nor in a cause that says there must be only so many 
things caused, unless you insist on what we seek to prove 
[viz. that the nature is such that it be found in but one 
individual], But “deity” is one given kind of thing, and 



tionis et per te se habet ad plura unius rationis, ergo ex 
se non determinatur ad certam pluralitatem singularium 
nec potest determinari aliunde, quia hoc repugnat 
primo, ergo deitas est in suppositis infinitis. Ista ratio 
videtur quod fundatur super hoc quod primitas est de 
se indeterminata. 

Secundo arguo sic et juxta istam viam. Si sint plura 
necesse esse, aliquibus perfectionibus realibus distin- 
guuntur. Sint illae A et B. Tunc sic : aut ilia duo 
distincta per A et B sunt formaliter necesse esse per A et 
per B, aut non. Si non, ergo A non est ratio formalis 
essendi rtecessario, nec B. Per consequens, nec ergo ea 
includens est necessarium primo, quia includit aliquam 
entitatem quae non est formaliter necessitas essendi, nec 
necessaria ex se. Si autem ilia sint formaliter necesse 
esse per A et B, et praeter haec utrumque est necesse 
esse per illud in quo convenit unum cum alio, ergo 
utrumque habet in se duas rationes, quarum utrumque 
formaliter est necesse esse. Sed hoc est impossibile, quia 
neutra illarum includit alteram ; utraque ergo illarum 
circumscripta, esset tale necesse esse per reliquam, et ita 
aliquid esset formaliter necesse esse per rationem aliquam, 
qua circumscripta, nihilominus esset necesse esse, quod 
est impossibile. 

[ Septima Via]. De septima via, scilicet omnipotentia, 
videtur quod non sit per rationem naturalem demon- 
strabile, quia omnipotentia, ut alias patebit, non potest 
concludi ratione naturali, ut catholici intelligunt omni- 
potentiam, nec concluditur ex ratione infinitae potentiae. 
Tamen ex omnipotentia credita arguitur sic propositum. 
Si A est omnipotens, ergo potest facere circa quod- 



according to you is found in more than one individual of 
its kind. Therefore, deity as such is not determined to 
any certain number of individuals nor can it be so 
determined by anything other than itself, for this would be 
repugnant to what is truly first. Therefore, deity exists 
in an infinite number of individuals. This argument, as 
we see, is based upon the notion that primacy of itself is 

The second argument I give, based on this way, runs 
as follows. If several necessary beings existed, they 
would be distinguished from one another by some real 
perfections. Let us call these A and B. Then I argue, 
either these two necessary beings which differ by A and B 
are necessary formally in virtue of A and B, or they are 
not. If not, then A is not a formal reason for necessary 
existence, and the same is true of B. Hence, whatever 
includes A or B is not primarily a necessary being, 
because it includes some entity which is neither its 
necessity of existence nor is it necessary of itself. If, 
however, these two beings are formally necessary in 
virtue of A and B, in addition to being necessary by 
reason of what they have in common, then each being 
contains two reasons why it is formally necessary. This, 
however, is impossible for neither of these two reasons 
includes the other, and hence if either of the two were 
absent, the being would still exist necessarily in virtue 
of what remains. In such an impossible situation, some- 
thing would owe its formal necessity to what could be 
removed and still leave the being a necessary being. 

[ Seventh Proof \. As regards the seventh way, from 
omnipotence, it seems that the thesis cannot be demon- 
strated by natural reason, for omnipotence — as Catholics 
understand the term — cannot be demonstrated from 
natural reason, nor does it follow from the notion of 
infinite power, as will be shown later. Still, if omni- 
potence be accepted on faith, then one can argue that if 
A is omnipotent, it can make everything other than itself 


9 ° 

cumque aliud ipsum esse vel non esse, et ita posset 
destruere B, et ita faceret B nullipotentem, et sic sequi- 
tur quod B non est Deus. 

Ista ratio non valet, sicut quidam respondent ad earn, 
quia B non est objectum omnipotentiae, quia omni- 
potentia pro objecto respicit possibile ; B autem pone- 
batur necessarium sicut A. 

Ideo arguitur aliter declarando sic rationem Richardi 
secundo De Trinitate, cap. xvii vel ultimo,* ubi dicit sic : 
facile efficere poterit quisquis omnipotens fuerit ita quod 
omne aliud nihil possit, sicut omnipotens per suum velle 
[MS add vel sicut omnipotens suo velle] potest producere 
quodcumque possibile, ita suo nolle potest impedire vel 
destruere omne possibile. Sed si A est omnipotens, 
potest velle omnia alia a se esse et ita suo velle ipsa in 
esse producere. Non necesse est autem quod B velit 
omnia ilia esse quae vult A, quia voluntas B contin- 
genter se habet ad ilia, sicut voluntas A ad ilia quae B 
vult, si est Deus. Si autem B nolit ilia esse, ergo nullum il- 
lorum est. Ergo si sint duo omnipotentes, uterque illorum 
faceret alium nullipotentem, non destruendo ilium sed 
prohibendo per suum nolle esse volitorum ab alio. 

Quod si dicas quasi sophisticando quod concordent 
in voluntate sua, quamvis nulla sit necessitas, sed quasi 
fecerint pactum, adhuc probo quod neuter eorum erit 
omnipotens ; nam si A est omnipotens, potest pro- 
ducere suo velle quodcumque producibile volitum aliud 
a se. Ex hoc sequitur quod B nullum poterit producere 
suo velle, et ita non est omnipotens. Quod autem hoc 
sequitur, patet ex quarta via, quia impossibile est duas 

* 1, cap. xxv (Migne, P.L., cxcvi, 902), 



come into existence or go out of existence. Consequently, 
it can destroy B and thus render B impotent. From this 
it follows that B is not God. 

Some 12 object that this reason does not hold since B 
is not an object of omnipotence, for omnipotence has as 
its object only what can, yet need not, exist, whereas B 
is assumed to be just as necessary as A. 

Wherefore, we must reformulate the argument of 
Richard [of St Victor] in his work De Trinitate* where he 
says : “Whoever will have been omnipotent, will easily 
be able to make everything else impotent”. Just as an 
omnipotent being can produce whatever is possible simply 
by willing that it should be, so also he can impede or 
destroy everything that is possible by willing that it should 
not be. But if A is omnipotent, he can will everything 
other than himself and so, by his will, cause everything 
to exist. It is not necessary, however, that B will every- 
thing which A wills because the will of B is related only 
contingently to what A wills, even as the will of A is 
related contingently to what B wills, assuming here that 
each is God. But if B wills that none of these things 
should exist, then none will exist. Consequently, if two 
omnipotent beings exist, each will make the other im- 
potent, not indeed by destroying the other, but because 
one by his positive will could keep non-existent what the 
other wills should exist. 

And if you say, to argue sophistically, that they 
voluntarily agree on a common way of acting through 
some sort of pact, even though there is really no intrinsic 
necessity that they do so, still I prove that neither will 
be omnipotent. For if A is omnipotent, by willing he can 
produce every possible thing that can be produced and 
thus B can produce nothing by willing and hence will 
not be omnipotent. That this follows is clear from what 
was said in the fourth way. For it is impossible that two 
total causes should produce one and the same effect, 


9 1 

causas esse totales unius effectus, quia ex quo totaliter 
causatus est ab una, impossibile est quod sit ab alia. 

[Ad Argumenla Pro Prima Opinione ] 

Ad argumenta primo enim ad ilia quae sunt pro alia 
opinione respondeo ad auctoritatem Rabbi Moysi et 
dico quod Deum esse unum creditur in Lege quia enim 
populus fuit rudis et pronus ad idolatriam. Ideo 
indiguit instrui per Legem de unitate Dei, licet per 
naturalem rationem posset demonstrari. Ita etiam 

acceptum est a Lege quod Deus sit : Exod. hi * : Ego 
sum qui sum, et Apostolus ad Hebraeos,] dicit quod 
oportet accedentem ad Deum credere quia est, et tamen 
non negatur Deum esse demonstrabile. Ergo pari 

ratione nec negandum est posse demonstrari per rationem 
Deum esse unum, licet accepta sit a Lege. Ilia etiam 
possunt demonstrari utile est communitati tradi etiam 
per viam auctoritatis et propter negligentiam com- 
munitatis in inquirendo veritatem et etiam propter 
impotentiam intellectus, et propter errores inquiren- 
dum per demonstrationem, quia veritatibus suis multa 
falsa permiscent, ut dicit Augustinus xvm De Civitate 
Dei, l et ideo quia simplices sequentes tales demonstra- 
tores possent dubitare, cui esset asserendum vel assentien- 
dum. Ideo tuta est via et stabilis et communis, auctori- 
tas certa [MS add. circa] quae non potest fallere nec falli. 

Ad secundam rationem de singulari dico quod aliud 
est singularitatem esse conceptam vel ut objectum vel 
ut partem objecti, aliud singularitatem esse praecise 
modum concipiendi sive sub quo concipitur objectum. 
Exemplum cum dico “universale” [MS “velle”], objectum 
conceptum est pluralitas, sed modus concipiendi, id est 
modus sub quo concipitur, est singularitas. Ita in 

* Exodus, m. 14. f Heb. xi. 6. 

t xvm, cap. xli (Migne, P.L., xli, 601). 


for what is caused completely by one cannot be caused 
by the other. 

[Reply to the arguments for the First Opinion ] 13 

First I answer the arguments for the other opinion, 
replying first to the authority of Rabbi Moses. I say 
that the reason God’s unicity was a matter of belief in 
the Law is to be found in the fact that the people were 
uneducated and prone to idolatry. Consequently, they 
needed the Law to tell them that there is but one God 
even though this truth could be demonstrated by natural 
reason. The fact that God exists is also known from the 
Law, for instance. Exodus, hi* : “I am who am”, and the 
Apostle to the Hebrews! : “For he who comes to God 
must believe that God exists”. Nevertheless, we do not 
deny that God’s existence is demonstrable. On the same 
grounds, then, we must not deny that reason can demon- 
strate that there is but one God just because this is 
accepted from the Law. Indeed it is good that many 
things demonstrable in themselves be transmitted to the 
human race by way of authority also because of man’s 
weakness of intellect, his neglect to seek the truth and 
because of the mistakes he makes when he tries to 
demonstrate something. As Augustine says in the City 
of Godf much falsity is mixed with truth, and since simple 
people following such demonstrators could still be in 
doubt about what they must assent to, the firm, safe and 
common way is by means of authority so certain it can 
neither deceive nor be deceived. 

As for the second reason about the singular, I say that 
it is one thing to conceive singularity as an object or part 
of an object. It is quite another thing to have singularity 
as a mode of conception or as the aspect under which the 
object is conceived. For example, when I say “a uni- 
versal”, the object conceived is plurality, but singularity 
is the mode of conception, that is, it is conceived as a 
singular thing. So also with logical intentions. When 



intentionibus logicis, cum dico “singulare”, quod con- 
cipitur est singularitas, sed modus sub quo concipitur 
est universalitas, quia quod concipitur ut concipitur 
habet indifferentiam ad plura. Ita dico in proposito, 
quod essentia divina potest concipi ut singularis, ita quod 
singularitas sit concepta vel ut objectum vel ut pars 
objecti. Non tamen sequitur quod essentia possit cog- 
nosci ut est singularis, ita quod singularitas sit modus 
concepti. Cognoscere enim sic aliquid ut singulare est 
illud cognoscere ut hoc sicut album videtur ut hoc. Et 
hoc modo praedictum est quod non cognoscitur essentia 
divina sub ratione singularitatis, et ideo in argumento 
est fallacia figurae dictionis, commutando rem in modum. 

[Ad Argumenta Principalia] 

Ad rationes principales, dico quod Apostolus loquitur 
de idolis et ideo de diis nuncupative, et subdit ibi * 
Nobis autem unus est Deus, quia omnes dii gentium 

Ad secundam dico quod consequentia non valet, quia 
numerus non est talis modus cognoscendi grammaticus 
sicut alii modi grammaticales, qui praecise dicunt modum 
concipiendi rei absque aliqua realitate correspondente 
tali modo concipiendi ; unde [nec] dicunt praecise ali- 
quid in re, a quo moveri possit intellectus ad talem 
modum concipiendum, quamvis illud motivum non sit 
aliquid in re (masculinitas enim non requirit aliquid 
masculinum in re sed aliquid correspondens masculi- 
nitati, scilicet potentiam activam vel aliquid hujusmodi). 
Sed numerus vere includit rem substratum [A/iS sub- 
tractam]. Unde sequitur “Homines currant, ergo plures 
homines currant”. Sed non sic de aliis consignificatis 

* 1 Cor. vm. 6. 

f Ps. xcv. 5. 



I say “singular”, it is singularity that is conceived, but 
the mode of conception is that of a universal, for what 
I conceive is indifferent to being more than one. And so 
my answer to their assumption is this. The divine essence 
can be conceived as singular in the sense that singularity is 
conceived either as the object or part of the object. From 
this, however, it does not follow that the divine essence 
can be known as singular in such a way that singularity 
is the mode of conception, for to know something as 
singular in this way is to know it as “a this” just as a white 
object is seen as this white object. As we said above , 14 
the divine essence is not known under the aspect of 
singularity in this manner. Therefore, the argument 
involves a fallacy of speech by substituting the mode for 
the thing. 

[Reply to the Arguments at the Beginning] 

To the initial arguments , 15 I say that the Apostle is 
speaking of idols and hence of so-called “gods”, for in 
the same passage he adds : “Yet for us there is only one 
God”, “for all the gods of the Gentiles are devils”. 

To the second argument™ I declare the consequence to 
be invalid inasmuch as number is not like some of the 
other grammatical modes which express precisely a mode 
of conception without any reality that corresponds to the 
conceptual mode, and consequently do not express pre- 
cisely something in reality by which the intellect could 
be moved to conceive a thing the way it does, even where 
that motive be not something in the thing as such. For 
a noun to be masculine, for instance, it is not necessary 
that the thing designated by the noun be itself masculine. 
It suffices if it have something resembling masculinity, 
namely some active power or some such thing. Number, 
on the contrary, includes the underlying thing. Con- 
sequently, from the proposition “Men are running” it 
follows that several men are running. Such is not the 



nominis vel verbi, quia non [MS bene] sequitur : “Deus 
est, igitur Deus est masculinus”, quia ad masculinitatem 
sufficit aliquid in re a quo ille modus concipiendi possit 
accipi, puta activitas. Dico ergo quod illud solum 
“Dii” conceptum sub modo plurali includit contra- 
dictionem, quia modus concipiendi repugnat ei quod 
concipitur sub modo. Cum igitur probatur consequentia, 
quia idem includit singulare et plurale, dico quod 
singulare includit illud sub modo concipiendi convenienti 
ipsi concepto sed plurale includit illud sub modo im- 
possibili illi concepto, et ideo singulare includit rationem 
quasi in se veram prout includit conceptum et modum 
concipiendi ; plurale autem prout includit ista duo 
includit rationem quasi in se falsam ; et ideo non 
sequitur quod plurale sit verum de plurali, sicut singulare 
de singulari, quia de eo cujus est ratio in se falsa nihil 
est verum. Per illud patet ad aliam probationem, quo 
majus cogitari non potest, quia non sunt dii cogitabiles 
sine contradictione, quia modus repugnat rei conceptae, 
et ideo major est glossanda sicut prius est dictum in 
quaestione praecedenti. Ad sensum autem et veritatem 
requiritur quod ratio subjecti non includit contra- 
dictionem, sicut dictum est in quaestione secunda hujus 

Ad tertiam dico quod ilia major propositio non est 
prima, sed reducitur ad istam, “omne imperfectum 
reducitur ad perfectum”. Et quia omne ens per parti- 
cipationem est imperfectum, et tantum illud ens est 
perfectum quod est ens per essentiam, ideo sequitur 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. n, q. ii, n. 5. 



case, however, with the other co-significates of a noun 
or verb, for from the proposition “God is” [where the 
noun God or Deus is masculine gender] it does not follow 
that God Himself is masculine, for it suffices for a noun 
to be masculine if there is something about the reality 
that would justify this gender, for instance, activity. I 
say, therefore, that the subject “gods” conceived in the 
plural form includes a contradiction since the mode of 
conception is repugnant to what is conceived under this 
mode. As for the proof of the consequence, viz. that 
the singular and plural include the same thing, I reply 
that the singular includes it in a conceptual mode that 
is in harmony with the thing conceived whereas the 
plural includes it in a conceptual mode that is incom- 
patible with the thing conceived. So far as the conceptual 
mode and the thing conceived are concerned, then, the 
singular includes a notion that is, as it were, true in itself, 
whereas the plural includes a notion that is, as it were, 
false in itself. Consequently, it does not follow that the 
plural is true of several as the singular is true of one, for 
nothing is true that is false in itself. And in this way 
we can answer the other proof for the consequence based 
on the proposition : “There is something in comparison 
with which nothing greater can be conceived.” For 
“gods” is not something conceivable without contradic- 
tion, since the mode of conception is repugnant to the 
thing conceived. Consequently, the major must be 
glossed the way it was in the previous question. For 
if the proposition is to be true or to make any sense, 
it is necessary that the notion of the subject includes no 
inherent contradiction, as has been pointed out in the 
second question of this distinction.* 

To the third argument 17 I reply that its major premise is 
not a primary truth but is reduced to this : “Everything 
imperfect is traced back to something perfect ”. 18 Since 
every being by participation is imperfect and only that 
being which is such by its essence is perfect, therefore this 

( 2 , 322 ; 14 



propositio ilia, scilicet quod “omne ens per participa- 
tionem reducitur ad ens per essentiam quod est per- 
fectum”. Ut igitur vere possit sequi conclusio, haec autem 
major de [imjperfecto sic habet distingui. Aliquid est 
imperfectum secundum perfectionem simpliciter, quae 
non necessario habet imperfectionem concomitantem 
quia non includit in se limitationem, sicut “hoc bonum”, 
“hoc verum”, “hoc ens”, et hujusmodi imperfectio re- 
ducitur ad perfectum ejusdem rationis, scilicet “bonum”, 
“ens”, et “verum”, quae important perfectiones simpli- 
citer. Aliquid autem est imperfectum secundum per- 
fectionem non simpliciter, quae de ratione sui includit 
limitationem et ideo necessario habet imperfectionem 
annexam, ut “hie homo”, “hie asinus”, et hujusmodi 
imperfecta non reducuntur ad perfectum per essentiam 
absolute ejusdem rationis sicut ad rationem specificam 
quia ipsa adhuc includit imperfectionem, quia limita- 
tionem ; sed reducuntur ad perfectum primum quod 
continet ea supereminenter et aequivoce. Quod ergo 
imperfectum est primo modo, reducitur ad perfectum 
simpliciter secundum perfectionem illius rationis, quia 
aliquid secundum istam rationem potest esse simpliciter 
perfectum. Quod autem est imperfectum secundo modo 
non reducitur ad aliquid perfectum secundum per- 
fectionem ejusdem rationis, quia enim ilia imperfec- 
tionem includit. Ideo ilia non potest esse perfectum 
simpliciter propter illam limitationem. Sed reducitur 
ad aliquid simpliciter perfectum aequivocum, eminenter 
includens illam perfectionem. Et ideo bonum imper- 
fectum reducitur ad perfectum bonum, sed lapis, qui 
est imperfectus, non reducitur ad lapidem perfectum 
simpliciter, sed ad summum ens et ad summum bonum, 
quae includunt virtualiter illam perfectionem. 



proposition follows : "Every being by participation is 
traced back to a perfect being that is such by its essence”. 
Hence in order that the conclusion follow, the major 
premise regarding the “imperfect” must be distinguished 
as follows. Something is imperfect according to pure 
perfection. A pure perfection inasmuch as it includes no 
limitation in itself does not necessarily include some con- 
comitant imperfection. Something imperfect according 
to pure perfection, for instance, would be “this good”, 
“this true thing”, “this being”. Such imperfect things 
are reducible to something perfect of the same character, 
namely to “the Good”, “the True”, “Being”, all of 
which imply pure perfection. Other things, however, are 
imperfect according to mixed perfection. A mixed per- 
fection is one which includes some limitation and there- 
fore necessarily has some added imperfection. “This 
man”, “this donkey”, and such like, would be imperfect 
in this way. Such things are not reduced specifically 
to something which possesses the same perfection abso- 
lutely by its essence, for the latter would still be imperfect 
because it is limited. They are reduced, however, to a 
perfect First Being which contains them in a more perfect 
and equivocal manner. What is imperfect in the first 
way, then, is reduced to a pure perfection of the same 
formal character, for something of this kind can be simply 
perfect. What is imperfect in the second way, however, 
cannot be reduced to something perfect of the same 
formal character, for the latter includes imperfection. 
Such a thing by reason of this limitation, then, cannot 
be simply perfect, but it is reduced to something which 
is simply perfect and which is of a different character, but 
includes the perfection of the imperfect being in a more 
excellent way. Consequently, an imperfect good is 
reduced to a perfect good, but an imperfect stone is not 
reduced to a stone which is simply perfect, but to the 
Highest Being and the Greatest Good which virtually 
include this perfection. 


Ad ultimum dicitur quod plura bona finita sunt 
meliora paucioribus bonis finitis, non autem plura bona 
infinita. Sed hoc non videtur respondere ad argu- 
mentum, quia quaecumque si essent meliora essent, 
videntur ponenda esse in entibus, et maxime in ente 
supremo quod est necesse esse, quia ibi quidquid posset 
esse bonum est, et necesse est ibi esse. Sed plura bona 
infinita si essent essent meliora. Videtur igitur quod plura 
bona infinita sunt ponenda in natura summi boni. 

Ad illud respondeo, quod cum dicitur in majori “ilia 
quae si essent essent meliora, sunt ponenda ibi”, dico 
quod aut per ly “si” implicatur positio possibilis aut 
positio incompossibilium. Si primo modo dico quod 
major est vera et minor falsa, quia implicatio ilia in 
minori non possibilis sed incompossibilium. Si autem 
ly “si” implicet positionem incompossibilium, tunc minor 
est vera et major falsa, quae enim non essent meliora 
nisi ex positione incompossibilium, non essent meliora, 
nec etiam sunt bona, sicut illud quod non est nisi ex 
positione incompossibilium, omnino non est, sicut nec 
illud positum a quo dependet. 



To the last , 19 some say 20 that a greater number of finite 
goods is better than a lesser number, but that the same 
is not true of infinite goods. This, however, does not 
seem to answer the difficulty, for it seems that whatever 
is better, if it can exist, should be assumed to exist in 
some being and in particular in that being which is 
supreme and exists necessarily, for whatever can be a good 
exists there and it is necessary that it exist there. Now if 
several infinite goods existed, this would be better. 
Therefore in a nature of the highest good it seems that 
more than one infinite good must be assumed to exist. 

To this I reply that when the major premise declares 
that “those things are to be assumed to exist which 
would be better if they did exist”, the term “if” implies 
the assumption of something possible or something im- 
possible. If the first, then I say the major is true and the 
minor false, for what the minor implies is not possible but 
includes incompatible notions. But if the term “if” 
implies the assumption of the impossible, then the minor 
is true and the major false. For if some things are better 
only inasmuch as they assume the coexistence of in- 
compatible notions, then they are not really better, nor 
for that matter are they really good. It is the same with 
something that can exist only if we assume the coexistence 
of incompatible notions. Such a thing is simply non- 
existent, and the same is true of the impossible basis 
postulated for it. 



Summary of the Argument 

Question : Can any certain and unadulterated truth be known 
naturally by the intellect of a person in this life without the 
special illumination of the Uncreated Light ? 

Pro et Contra 

Body of the Question 

The opinion of Henry of Ghent 
Scotus’s critique of Henry (in six articles) 

Article I. Henry’s arguments lead to scepticism 

Article II. Rejection of scepticism 

u. Certitude of first principles 

b. Experimental knowledge 

c. Knowledge of our own acts 

d. Certitude of sense knowledge 

Article III. Reply to Henry’s arguments 
Article IV. Concerning Henry’s conclusion 
Article V. Solution of the Question 
Reply to the Arguments at the beginning 

Article VI. To what extent Henry’s arguments hold 




Ultimo quantum ad materiam istam cognoscibilitatis, 
quaero an aliqua veritas certa et sincera possit naturaliter 
cognosci ab intellectu viatoris absque lucis increatae speciali 

[Pro et Contra] 

Arguo quod non : 

ix De Trinitate, cap. ultimo sexto vel decimo quinto f : 
Intueamur inviolabilem veritatem ex qua definiamus 
qualis esse mens hominis sempitemis rationibus debeat. 
Et ibidem, cap. decimo quinto : Aliis supra nos regulis 
manentibus vel approbare vel improbare convincimur 
quando aliquid recte vel non recte probamus vel im- 
probamus. Et ibidem, cap. decimo septimo : Artem 
ineffabiliter pulchram super aciem mentis simplici 
intelligentia capientes. Et eodem, cap. octavo vel 
undevigesimo J : In ilia veritate ex qua temporalia sunt 
facta omnia formam conspicimus, atque inde conceptam 
notitiam tamquam verbum apud nos habemus. 

Item, libro duodecimo, cap. secundo ** : Sublimioris 
rationis est judicare de istis corporalibus secundum 
rationes sempiternas. 

Item, in eodem duodecimo, cap. decimo quarto vel 
trigesimo secundo ff : Non solum rerum sensibilium in 
locis positarum stant incommutabiles rationes, etc. Et 
quod intelligat ibi de rationibus aeternis vere in Deo, 
probatur per hoc quod ibidem dicit quod paucorum est 

* Opus oxoniense, i, dist. m, q. iv (Assisi 137, f. 3ov 6 -33r (> ; cf. 
Viv£s, VOL. IX, l § 2 a - 20 ‘] b . 

f ix, cap. vi (Migne, P.L., xlii, 966). 

I cap. vii (Migne, P.L., xlii, 967). 

** xii, cap. ii (Migne, P.L., xlii, 999). 
ft xii, cap. xiv (Migne, P.L., xlii, ioio). 




Finally, on the subject of what we can know, I ask 
whether any certain and unadulterated truth can be known natur- 
ally by the intellect of a person in this life without the special 
illumination of the Uncreated Light ? 

[Pro et Contra] 

I argue that no such truth can be known 1 : 

[Arg. i], From [St Augustine] : De Trinitate, bk. ixf: 
“But we gaze upon the indestructible truth by reason of 
which we may define perfectly what the mind of man 
should be according to the eternal reasons”. And again : 
“When we accept or reject something correctly, our 
incontestable conviction arises from other immutable 
rules above our minds”. And again : “Grasping by 

simple intelligence the unspeakably beautiful art that 
lies beyond the eye of the mind. . .”. And in the same 
work]: : “In the eternal truth from which all temporal 
things are made, we behold the form . . , and we have 
within us like a Word the knowledge of what we have 

[Arg. n] . Also in bk. xii * * : “But it pertains to higher 
reason to judge of these corporeal things according to 
eternal reasons”. 

[Arg. hi. And in the same bk. xnfj : “And not 

only are there immutable reasons for sensible things 
posited in place, etc. . .”. That Augustine here is 
speaking of the eternal reasons that are really in God is 
proved by the fact that he says in the same passage that 



ad illas pervenire. Si autem intelligeret de primis 
principiis, non est paucorum pervenire ad ilia sed 
multorum, quia omnibus sunt communia et nota. 

Item, libro decimo quarto, cap. decimo quinto vel 
trigesimo quarto,* loquens de injusto qui multa recte 
laudat et vituperat in moribus hominum, ait : Quibus 
regulis judicat, etc. Et in fine ait : Ubi sunt illae regulae 
scriptae nisi in libro illo lucis. Liber ille lucis est intel- 
lectus divinus. Igitur vult ut in ilia luce injustus videt 
quae sunt juste agenda et quod in aliquo impresso vel per 
aliquod impressum ab illo videtur, ut ibidem dicit : Unde 
omnis lex justa in cor hominis non migrando, sed tam- 
quam imprimendo transfertur sicut imago ex annulo, etc. 
in ceram transit et annulum [MS. ceram] non relinquit. 
Igitur in ilia luce videmus, a qua imprimitur in cor 
hominis justitia ; ilia autem est lux increata. 

Item, xii Confessionum | : Si ambo videmus verum 

nec tu in me nec ego in te, sed ambo in ea quae supra 
mentem est incommutabili veritate. Multae autem sunt 
auctoritates Augustini in multis locis ad probandum hanc 

Ad oppositum : 

Rom. 1 j : Invisibilia Dei a creatura mundi per ea 

quae facta sunt intellecta conspiciuntur. Istae rationes 
aeternae sunt invisibilia Dei ; ergo cognoscuntur ex 
creaturis ; igitur ante visionem istarum habetur certa 
cognitio creaturarum. 

* xiv, cap. xv (Migne, P.L., xui, 1052). 
■f xii, cap. xxv (Migne, P.L., xxxii, 840). 

% Rom. 1. 20, 


it is the privilege of the few to attain them. For he would 
not say this if he were speaking of first principles, since 
the latter are not the privilege of the few but the many, 
inasmuch as first principles are common and known to 


[Arg. iv]. Also in Book xiv,* speaking of the unjust 
man who correctly praises and blames many things in 
the mores of men, he asks : “By what norms do they 

judge, etc. . .”. And at the end, he adds : “Where 
are these rules written except in that book of light. . ”. 
That “book of light”, however, is the divine intellect. 
Therefore, he wishes to say that it is in this light that the 
unjust man sees what justice demands must be done. 
And he sees this in something or by something impressed 
upon him by this light, for as Augustine says in the same 
place : . whence every just law is transferred to the 

heart of man not by passing from one place to another, 
but by being impressed, as it were, even as the image is 
transferred from the ring to the wax without leaving the 
ring”. Therefore, we see in that light by which justice 
is imprinted upon the heart of man. This light, however, 
is the Uncreated Light. 

[Arg. v]. Likewise, in the Confessions, bk. xnf : “If 
both of us see the truth, you do not see it in me, nor do 
I see it in you, but both of us see it in that immutable 
truth which is above the mind”. Now there are many 
other places where statements of Augustine could be 
found to support this conclusion. 

To the contrary : 

Romans i J : “For since the creation of the world, God’s 
invisible attributes are clearly seen . . . being under- 
stood through the things that are made. . .”. Now the 
invisible things of God are these eternal reasons. Con- 
sequently, they are known from creatures. Therefore, 
even before these eternal reasons are seen, we have certain 
knowledge of creatures. 



[Corpus Quaestionis] 

[ Opinio Henrici] 

In ista quaestione est opinio una talis quod intentiones 
generales habent inter se ordinem naturalem. De duabus 
quae sunt ad propositum, videlicet de intentione entis et 
veri [MS ubi] loquamur. 

Intentio prima est entis, quod probatur per illud De 
causis* propositionis quartae : Prima rerum creatu- 
rarum est esse, et in commento primae propositionis : Esse 
est vehementioris adhaerentiae. Et ratio est quia entitas 
est absoluta ; veritas decit respectum ad exemplar. Ex 
hoc sequitur quod ens possit cognosci sub ratione enti- 
tatis, licet non sub ratione veritatis, et per consequens 
ipsum quod est verum potest cognosci antequam cogno- 
scatur ipsa veritas. 

Haec etiam conclusio probatur ex parte intellectus, 
quia ens potest concipi simplici intelligentia et tunc conci- 
pitur illud quod verum est ; sed ratio veritatis non 
concipitur nisi intelligentia componente et dividente ; 
compositionem et divisionem praecedit simplex intelli- 

Si autem quaeratur de notitia entis, sive ejus quod 
verum esi, dicitur quod intellectus ex puris naturalibus 
potest sic intelligere verum. Quod probatur, quia incon- 
veniens est naturam esse expertem propriae operationis 
secundum Damascenum,f et hoc magis inconveniens est 
in natura perfectiori secundum Philosophum, n De 
caelo et mundo, J de stellis, quia magnum inconveniens 
esset Stellas habere virtutem progressivam et non habere 
instrumenta ad progrediendum ; igitur cum propria 

* Liber de causis, prop, i, iv. 

t Defide orthodoxa, n, cap. xxiii (Migne, P.G., xciv, 949). 
t ii, cap. viii (290“, 30). 



[Body of the Question] 

[The opinion of Henry of Ghent ] 

One opinion 2 regarding this question maintains that 
a natural order exists among general notions. Let us 
discuss two of these which are relevant here, viz. the 
notion of “being” and the notion of “true”. 

That “being”is the first of these notions is proved from 
the fourth proposition of the Liber de Causis* : “The first 
of created things is being” ; and in the commentary on 
the first proposition : “Being is of stronger adherence”. 
The reason for this is that entity is something absolute, 
whereas truth implies a relation to an exemplar. From 
this it follows that a thing can be known as an entity even 
though its truth value is as yet unknown. Consequently, 
the thing which is true can be known before its truth is 

The way the mind functions provides a further proof. 
A being can be grasped by an act of simple understanding, 
and in such a case the thing which is true is known. But 
the truth value itself is known only by an act of judgment. 
Simple understanding, however, precedes an act of 

Now if we ask about our knowledge of a being or of 
the thing which is true, they tell us that the intellect by 
reason of its purely natural powers can know the “true” 
in this sense. The proof is this. It is hardly fitting that 
any nature exist without its proper activity, as Damas- 
cene says.f The more perfect the nature in question the 
less fitting that it should lack such operation, as the 
Philosopher points out in speaking of the stars in De caelo 
et mundo, bk. n.J For it would be highly improper for the 
stars to have the power of progressive movement and still 
lack the means necessary for locomotion. If the proper 



opcratio intellectus sit intelligere verum, videtur incon- 
veniens quod natura non concesserit intellectui ilia quae 
sufficiunt ad hanc operationem. 

Sed si loquamur de cognitione veritatis, respondetur 
quod sicut est duplex exemplar, creatum et increatum, 
secundum Platonem in Timaeo* videlicet exemplar 
factum et non factum, sive creatum et non creatum 
(exemplar creatum est species universalis causata a re, 
exemplar increatum est idea in mente divina), ita duplex 
est conformitas ad exemplar et duplex veritas ; una est 
conformitas ad exemplar creatum et isto modo posuit 
Aristotelis, veritates rerum cognosci per conformitatem 
earum ad speciem intelligibilem ; et ita videtur Augus- 
tinus ponere viii° De Trinitate, cap. vii f ubi vult quod 
rerum notitiam generalem et specialem ex sensibus collec- 
tam habemus, secundum quam de quocumque occurrent 
veritatem judicamus, quod ipsum sit tale vel tale. 

Sed quod per tale exemplar acquisitum in nobis 
habeatur omnino certa et infallibilis notitia veritatis de 
re, hoc videtur omnino impossibile et hoc probatur 
triplici ratione secundum istos. Prima sumitur ex parte 
rei de qua exemplar est extractum, secunda ex parte 
subjecti in quo est, et tertia ex parte exemplaris in se. 

Prima ratio est talis : Objectum illud a quo abstrahitur 
exemplar est mutabile. Igitur non potest esse causa 
alicujus immutabilis, sed certa notitia alicujus de aliquo 
sub ratione veritatis in eo habetur per rationem im- 
mutabilem ; igitur non habetur per tale exemplar. 
Haec dicitur ratio Augustini Octoginta Ires quaestionum, 
quaestio ix, t ubi dicit quod a sensibus non est 

* Timaeus, 28. t vin, cap. vi (Migne, P.L., xlii, q66). 

} q. ix (Migne, P.L., xl, 13). 


operation of the intellect, however, is to know the thing 
which is true, it seems hardly fitting that nature should 
not endow the intellect with what is prerequisite for such 
an operation. 

But as for knowing the truth itself, they tell us that 
there are two exemplars, one created, the other un- 
created. This is in accord with Plato, who mentions in 
the Timaeus* one exemplar that is made, i.e. created, and 
one that is not made, i.e. uncreated. The created 
exemplar is the species of the universal caused by the 
thing. The uncreated exemplar is the idea in the divine 
mind. Consequently, a twofold truth and twofold 
conformity to an exemplar exists. One is the conformity 
to the created exemplar, and it was in this sense that 
Aristotle maintained that the truths of things are known 
through their conformity to the intelligible species . 3 
Augustine, also, seems to hold this view in his work 
De Trinitate , bk. vm,f where he maintains that the know- 
ledge of things gleaned from the senses is both of a general 
and of a particular nature. In virtue of such knowledge 
we judge the truth of any occurrence to be such or 

But it seems wholly impossible that such an acquired 
exemplar should give us infallible and completely certain 
knowledge of a thing. The advocates of this opinion 
give three reasons for such a conclusion. The first is 
based upon the thing from which the exemplar is 
abstracted, the second upon the subject in which the 
exemplar inheres and the third upon the exemplar itself. 

The first reason runs something like this. The object 
from which the exemplar is abstracted is itself mutable ; 
therefore it cannot be the cause of something unchange- 
able. But it is only in virtue of some immutable reason 
that someone can be certain that something is true. An 
exemplar such as this, then, provides no such knowledge. 
They claim this to be Augustine’s argument in his 
Eighty-three Questions , q. ix,J where he tells us not to look 



expectanda veritas, quia sensibilia sine intermissione 

Secunda ratio tabs est : Anima est ex se mutabilis et 
passiva erroris ; igitur per nihil mutabilius ea potest 
ratificari sive regulari ne erret. Sed tale exemplar in ea 
est mutabilius quam ipsa anima sit. Igitur illud exemplar 
non perfecte regulat animam ne erret. Requiritur ergo 
specialis influentia superior. Haec dicitur ratio Augus- 
tini De vera religione * : Lex omnium artium, etc. 

Tertio ratio : notitiam veritatis nullus habet certam 
et infallibilem nisi habeat unde possit verum discernere 
a verisimili, quia si non possit discernere verum a falso 
[d/S secundo] vel a verisimili, potest dubitare se falli. 
Sed per exemplar praedictum creatum non potest dis- 
cerni verum a verisimili ; ergo, etc. Probatio minoris : 
Species tabs potest representare se tamquam se vel alio 
modo se tamquam objectum, sicut est in somniis, si 
repraesentet se tamquam objectum, falsitas est, si se 
tamquam se, veritas est. Igitur per talem speciem non 
habetur sufficiens distinctivum quando repraesentat se ut 
se vel ut objectum, et ita nec sufficiens distinctivum veri 
a falso. 

Ex istis concluditur quod certam scientiam et infalli- 
bilem veritatem si contingat hominem cognoscere, hoc 
non convenit ei aspiciendo ad exemplar a re per sensus 
acceptum quantumcumque sit depuratum et universale 
factum, sed requiritur quod respiciat ad exemplar 
increatum. Et tunc modus ponendi est iste : Deus non 
ut cognitum habet rationem exemplaris ad quod aspi- 
ciendo cognoscitur sincera veritas. Est enim cognitum 

* cap. xxx (Migne, P.L., xxxiv, 147). 



for truth from the senses, for what the senses perceive 
constantly undergoes change. 

The second reason goes like this. Of itself the soul is 
changeable and subject to error. Now a thing which is 
even more changeable than the soul itself cannot correct 
this condition or prevent the soul from erring. But the 
exemplar which inheres in the soul is even more mutable 
than the soul itself. Consequently, such an exemplar 
does not regulate the soul so perfectly that it makes no 
mistake. Some special higher influence, then, is required. 
This, they say, is the argument Augustine uses in his work 
De vera religione* : “Since the law of all arts”, etc. 

The third reason is that no-one possesses certain and 
infallible knowledge of the truth unless he can distinguish 
the truth from what has only the appearance of truth, 
for if he is unable to tell the true from the false or from 
what appears to be true, he can still be in doubt whether 
he is being deceived or not. Now truth cannot be dis- 
tinguished from what merely appears to be true by means 
of the aforesaid exemplar. Therefore, etc. Proof of the 
minor : Such a species can either represent itself as 

species or, as happens in dreams, present itself as an 
object. In the latter case, we have falsity ; in the former, 
truth. There is nothing about such a species then that 
suffices to differentiate the first mode of representation 
from the second and thus to distinguish the true from the 

From all this they conclude that if man can know the 
infallible truth and possess certain knowledge it is not 
because he looks upon an exemplar derived from the 
thing by way of the senses, no matter how much such an 
exemplar may be purified and universalised. It is neces- 
sary that he look upon the uncreated exemplar. And 
the way they assume this to take place is this . 4 God does 
not function as exemplar in the sense that He is the object 
known so that unadulterated truth is known by looking 
at Him. For God is known only under some general 

( 2 , 322 ) 15 



in generali attributo. Sed est ratio cognoscendi ut 
nudum exemplar et propria ratio cognoscendi ut nudum 
exemplar et propria ratio essentiae creatae. 

Qualiter autem possit esse ratio cognoscendi et non 
cognitum ponitur exemplum, quia sicut radius solis 
quandoquo derivatur quasi obliquato aspectu a suo fonte 
quandoque directe. Quod videtur in radio primo modo 
derivato, licet sol sit ratio videndi, non tamen ut visus in 
se. Ejus autem quod videtur secundo modo in radio, sol 
est ita ratio cognoscendi quod etiam est cognitus. Quando 
igitur ista lux increata intellectum quasi directo aspectu 
illustrat, tunc ut visa est ratio videndi alia in ipsa. Intel- 
lectum autem nostrum pro statu viae quasi obliquato 
aspectu illustrat, et ideo est intellectui nostro ratio 
videndi non visa. 

Ponitur autem qualiter habeat triplicem rationem 
respectu actus videndi, scilicet lucis actuantis, speciei 
immutantis, et caracteris sive exemplaris configurantis. 
Et ex hoc concluditur ultra quod requiritur specialis 
influentia, quia sicut ilia essentia non videtur naturaliter 
a nobis in se, ita ut ilia essentia est exemplar respectu 
alicujus essentiae naturaliter non videtur. Secundum 
Augustinum De videndo Deum* In ejus enim potes- 
tate est videri ; si vult, videtur ; si non vult, non vide- 
tur. Ultimo additur quod perfecta notitia veritatis est 
quando duae species exemplares concurrunt in mente, 
una inhaerens, scilicet creata, alia illapsa, scilicet non 
creata ; et sic contingimus verbum perfecte veritatis. 

(Arguo contra istam opinionem in se, secundo contra 
rationes fundamentales adductas vel econverso. Primum 
includit quartum articulum, qui est quasi ad hominem 

* cap. vi (Migne, P.L., xxxni, 603). 


attribute. But God is the reason why we know inasmuch 
as He is the sole exemplar and the proper reason for the 
created essence. 

The following example is used to explain how God can 
be the reason why we know and yet not be known in 
Himself. Some sunlight is reflected while other rays come 
directly from their source. And even though the sun is 
the reason why we see something by reflected sunlight, 
the sun itself is not seen. But for an object illumined by 
direct light, the sun is a reason for knowing that is also 
known. In similar fashion, then, when the Uncreated 
Light as it were illumines an intellect by a direct glance, 
then this Light as seen is the reason for seeing the other 
things in it. In the present life, however, this Uncreated 
Light illumines our intellect indirectly as it were. Con- 
sequently, though unseen itself, it is the reason why our 
intellect sees. 

Now they claim that the uncreated exemplar is related 
to the act of vision in three ways, viz. as a stimulating 
light, as a transforming species, and as the character or 
exemplar which produces a like form [in the intellect]. 
From this they conclude further that a special influence 
is required. For just as naturally we do not see this 
essence in itself, neither do we see it naturally as the 
exemplar of any essence. As Augustine puts it in his 
work De videndo Deum * : “It is in His power to be seen. 
If he wishes it, He is seen ; if He docs not wish it, He is 
not seen”. Finally, they add that perfect knowledge of 
truth results when the two exemplar species concur in 
the mind, viz. the created exemplar which inheres in the 
soul and the uncreated exemplar which enters from 
without. And it is in this way that we have the word of 
truth perfectly. 

(First 5 I argue against the opinion in itself ; secondly 
I refute the reasons adduced in its favour or turn them 
to my advantage. Under the first heading falls the fourth 
article. It is an argumentum ad hominem, as it were, whereas 



et tertium qui est ad rem, secundum includit primum 
articulum hie et tertium et sextum. Quintus ergo 
articulus est solutio quaestionis.) 

Contra istam opinionem, primo ostendo quod istae 
rationes non sunt rationes fundamentales alicujus opi- 
nionis verae, nec secundum intentionem Augustini, sed 
sunt pro opinione Academicorum. Secundo ostendo 
quomodo ilia opinio Academicorum, quae videtur con- 
cludi per istas rationes, falsa sit. Et tertio respondeo ad 
rationes istas quatenus minus concludunt. Quarto arguo 
contra conclusionem istius opinionis. Quinto solvo 
quaestionem. Sexto ostendo quomodo rationes istae 
quatenus sunt Augustini concludunt illam intentionem 
Augustini, non illam ad quam hie inducuntur. 

[Articulus Primus. Rationes Henrici sunt pro Opinione 
Academicorum ]. Primo, istae rationes videntur concludere 
impossibilitatem certae cognitionis naturalis. Prima, 
quia si objectum continue mutatur nec potest haberi 
aliqua certitudo de ipso sub ratione immutabilis. Immo 
nec in quocumque lumine posset certitudo haberi, quia 
non est certitudo quando objectum alio modo cognos- 
citur quam se habet. Igitur nec est certitudo cognos- 
cendo mutabile ut immutabile. Patet etiam quod ante- 
cedens hujus rationis, videlicet quod sensibilia continue 
mutantur, falsum est. Haec enim est opinio quae 
imponitur Heraclito iv Metaphysicae* 

Similiter, si propter mutabilitatem exemplaris, quod est 
in anima nostra, non posset esse certitudo, cum quidquid 
ponitur in anima subjective sit mutabile, etiam ipse actus 
intelligendi, sequitur quod per nihil in anima rectificatur 
anima ne erret. [Non Duns] 8 (Sequitur etiam quod ipse 
actus intelligendi cum sit mutabilior quam ipsa anima in 
qua est, numquam erit verus nec veritatem continebit.) 

* iv, cap. v (ioio a , 6). 


the third article is ad rem. The second heading includes 
the material in the third and sixth articles. The fifth 
article, therefore, is the solution to the question.) 

Against this opinion, in the first [article] I show that 
these arguments are not a basis for any true opinion. 
Neither are they in accord with the mind of Augustine. 
Instead they lead to the view of the Academicians . 6 
In the second [article], I show how the view of the 
Academicians, which seems to follow from these reasons, 
is false. In the third, I answer these arguments in so far 
as they are inconclusive. In the fourth, I argue against 
the conclusion of this opinion [of Henry], In the fifth, 
I solve the question. In the sixth, I show how these 
reasons, in so far as they are Augustine’s, prove what 
Augustine intended to prove rather than what they are 
here used to prove. 

[Article I. Henry's Arguments lead to Scepticism ]. First, 
these reasons seem to imply the impossibility of any 
certain natural knowledge. Consider the first . 7 If an 
object is continually changing we can have no certitude 
about it by any kind of light, for there can be no certitude 
when an object is known in some way other than the way 
in which it is. Neither is there any certitude in knowing 
a changeable thing as unchangeable. It is also clear that 
the antecedent of this argument is false, viz. that what 
the senses can perceive is continually changing. This is 
the opinion attributed to Heraclitus in Metaphysics, bk. iv.* 

Likewise, if the mutability of the exemplar in our soul 
makes certitude impossible, then it follows that nothing 
in the soul could prevent it from erring, for everything 
inhering in such a subject is also mutable — even the act 
of understanding itself . 8 (It follows further that, inas- 
much as the act of understanding is even more mutable 
than the soul in which it resides, it will never be true 
nor contain truth.) 



Similiter, secundum istam opinionem species creata 
inhaerens concurrit cum specie illabente, sed quando 
aliquid concurrit quod repugnat certitudini, non potest 
certitudo haberi, sicut enim ex altera de necessario et 
altera de contingenti non sequitur conclusio nisi de 
contingenti, ita ex certo et incerto concurrentibus ad 
aliquam cognitionem, non sequitur cognitio certa. 

Idem patet etiam de tertia ratione, quia si species ipsa 
abstracta a re concurrat ad omnem cognitionem et non 
potest judicari quando ilia repraesentat se tanquam se et 
quando se tamquam objectum ; ergo quodcumque aliud 
concurrat, non potest haberi certitudo per quam dis- 
cernatur verum a verisimili. Istae igitur rationes videntur 
concludere omnem incertitudinem et opinionem Acade- 

Quod autem ista conclusio non sit secundum inten- 
tionem Augustini probo. Augustinus 11 Soliloquiorum * : 
Spectabilia disciplinarum quisque verissima esse nulla 
dubitatione concedit. Et Boethius De hebdomadibus f : 
Communis animi conceptio est quam quisque probat 
auditam. Et Philosophus n Metaphysicae { : Prima 

principia sunt omnibus nota. Ex his tribus auctoritati- 
bus, arguitur sic quod convenit omnibus alicujus speciei, 
sequitur naturam specificam. Igitur cum quisque habet 
certitudinem infallibilem de primis principiis et ultra 
cuilibet est naturaliter evidens forma syllogismi perfecti 
1 Priorum** scientia autem conclusionum non dependet 
nisi ex evidentia principii et ex evidentia illationis syllo- 
gisticae, igitur cuilibet naturaliter scita potest esse quae- 
cumque conclusio demonstrabilis ex principiis per se 

* 11, cap. xi (Migne, P.L., xxxii, 893-894). 
t (Migne, P.L., lxiv, 1311). 
t ", cap. i (9936, 4). 

** Analytica priora, 1, cap. ii (24 ft , 22-26). 


Likewise, according to this opinion, the created species 
which inheres in the soul concurs with the species that 
enters from without. But no certitude is possible where 
something incompatible with certitude concurs. For just 
as we can infer only a contingent proposition from a 
necessary and a contingent proposition combined, so 
also a concurrence of what is certain and what is un- 
certain does not produce certain knowledge. 

The same reasoning clearly applies to the third 
argument. For if the species abstracted from the thing 
is a concurrent factor in all knowledge, and if we cannot 
judge when such a species represents itself as such and 
when it represents itself as object, then it makes no 
difference what concurs with such a species. We shall 
never have a certain norm for distinguishing the true 
from what merely appears to be true. These arguments 
then seem to lead to the conclusion that all is uncertain, 
the opinion of the Academicians. 

That such a conclusion is not what Augustine intended 
I prove from the second book of his Soliloquies * : “Every- 
one concedes without hesitation that the proofs of the 
sciences are most true”. And Boethius says in De hebdo- 
madibus f : “A common conception of the mind is that 
which is conclusive for anyone who hears it”. And 
the Philosopher in Metaphysics, bk. ii, J says : “First 
principles are known to all. . On the basis of 
these three testimonies, the following argument is con- 
structed. Whatever pertains to all the members of a 
given species, springs from the specific nature itself. 
Now since the knowledge of conclusions depends solely 
upon the evidence of first principles and of the syllo- 
gistic inference, then if everyone has infallible certitude 
about first principles and further, if the form of the perfect 
syllogism as defined in Prior Analytics, bk. i,* * is naturally 
evident to everyone, then anyone can know naturally 
any conclusion demonstrable from self-evident principles. 



Secundo apparet quod Augustinus concedit certi- 
tudinem eorum quae cognoscuntur per experientiam 
sensuum. Unde dicit xv De Trinitate, cap. xiii vel xxxii * : 
Absit ut ea quae didicimus per sensus corporis vera esse 
dubitemus per ea quippe didicimus caelum et terram et 
mare et omnia quae in eis sunt. Si non dubitamus de 
veritate eorum et non fallimur, ut patet ; ergo certi 
sumus de cognitis per viam sensus. Nam certitudo habe- 
tur quando excluditur dubitatio et deceptio. 

Patet etiam tertio quod Augustinus concedit certi- 
tudinem de actibus nostris, ibidem xv, cap. xii vel xxxi j 
sive dormiat sive vigilet vivit, quia et dormire et in 
somniis videre viventis est. Quod si dicas : vivere non 
esse actum secundum sed primum, sequitur ibidem : Si 
aliquis dicat, scio me scire, me vivere, falli non potest, 
etiam quotiescumque reflectendo super primum scitum ; 
et ibidem : Si quis dicat, volo esse beatus, quomodo non 
impudenter respondetur, forte falleris, et ibi reflectendo 
in infinitum scio me velle etc. Ibidem : Si quispiam 
dicat errare nolo, nonne eum errare nolle verum est. 
Et alia, inquit, reperiuntur quae contra Academicos 
valent qui nihil sciri ab homine posse concedunt. 
Sequitur ibidem De tribus contra Academicos libris J 
quos qui intellexeri'c, nihil eum contra perceptionem 
veritatis argumenta eorum multum movebunt. Item 
eodem xv, cap. viii vel xxxviii ** : Ilia quae sciuntur ut 
numquam excidere possint et ad naturam ipsius animae 
pertinent cujusmodi est illud quod nos vivere scimus. 

(Notandum quod quattuor sunt cognitiones in quibus 
est nobis necessaria certitudo, scilicet de scibilibus 

* xv, cap. xii (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1075). 

t loc. cit. (1074). 

j Libri tres contra Academicos (Migne, P.L., xxxii, qo=i-q^8'). 

** xv, cap. xv (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1078). 


Secondly, it is clear that Augustine concedes the 
certitude of those things known through sense experience. 
Hence he says in De Trinitate, bk. xv* : “Far be it that we 
should doubt about those things which we learn to be true 
through our bodily senses, for through these we learn the 
heavens, the earth, the sea and all that are in them”. 
If then we are not deceived nor in doubt about the truth 
of these things, as is clearly the case, we are certain of 
things known through the senses, for where doubt and 
deception are excluded, we have certitude. 

Thirdly, it is clear that in the same work Augustine 
also concedes that we have certitude regarding our 
actions, f “ He is alive whether he be asleep or awake, 
for it is a part of living also to sleep and to see in dreams”. 
And if it be objected that to live is not a second act but 
a first act , 9 he adds in the same place : “If anyone should 
say, ‘I know that I know or that I live’, he cannot be 
deceived, no matter how often he reflect on this first 
knowledge”. And in the same place : “And if one says, 
‘I am happy’, how can one say without being impudent, 
‘Perhaps you are deceived’? And if I reflect ad infinitum, 
I know that I will, and so on”. And in the same place : 
“If anyone says I do not wish to err, will it not be true 
that he does not wish to err. . .”. “And other arguments”, 
he says, “can be found which hold against the Acade- 
micians, who maintain that nothing can be known by 
man”. And in the same work : “If anyone has read our 
Contra Academicos,% the arguments against the perception 
of truth given by the Academicians will not move him”. 
Likewise, in the same book ** : “Those things which are 
known in such a way that they can never slip from the 
mind but pertain to the nature of the soul itself, of such 
kind is the knowledge that we live. . . ”. 

(Note 10 that there are four kinds of knowledge of 
which we are necessarily certain, viz. (i) things knowable 


simpliciter ; de scibilibus per experientiam ; de actibus 
nostris ; et de cognitis a nobis ut nunc per sensus ; 
exemplum triangulus habet tres, etc. ; luna eclipsatur ; 
vigilo ; illud est album. Primum et tertium tantum 
egent sensu ut occasione, quia simpliciter est certitudo 
si omnes sensus errarent, secundum et quartum tenent 
per illud, scilicet quod frequenter evenit a non libero 
habet illud pro per se causa naturali, ex hoc sequitur 
propositum tam in secundo quam in quarto aliquando 
additur propositio necessaria. Itaque auctoritates Augus- 
tini dimittas usque ad articulum secundum, qui est ad 
rem vel qui est solutio). (Primum est manifestum, ter- 
tium conceditur esse per se notum, alias non judicaretur 
quid esset per se notum. Secundum et quartum habent 
infinitas per se notas quibus jungunt alias ex pluribus 

Sic patet primum quomadmodum rationes illius non 
concludunt et quod hoc falsum sit et contra Augustinum. 

[Articulus Secundus. Reprobatio Scepticismi]. Quantum 
ad secundum articulum ut in nullis cognoscibilibus 
locum habeat error Academicorum, videndum est quali- 
ter de tribus cognoscibilibus praedictis dicendum est, 
videlicet de principiis per se notis et de conclusionibus, 
et secundo de cognitis per experientiam, et tertio de 
actibus nostris, utrum possit naturaliter haberi certitudo 

[a. De Notitia Principiorum] . Quantum ergo ad 
certitudinem de principiis dico sic. Termini prin- 
cipiorum per se notorum talem habent identitatem ut 
alter evidenter necessario alterum includat, et ideo 
intellectus componens illos terminos, ex quo apprehendit 


in an unqualified sense, (2) things knowable through 
experience, (3) our actions, (4) things known at the 
present time through the senses. An example [of each] : 

(1) A triangle has three [angles equal to two right angles], 

(2) The moon is eclipsed, (3) I am awake, (4) That is 
white. The first and third require the senses merely as 
an occasion, because even if all the senses erred, there 
would still be certitude purely and simply. The second 
and fourth hold in virtue of this proposition : “Whatever 
happens frequently through something that is not free, 
has this something as its natural per se cause”. From 
this principle certitude follows in the second and fourth 
cases when the other proposition is necessary. Therefore 
you can let the arguments from the authority of Augustine 
go until the second article, which is ad rem , or to the [fifth 
article] which is the solution.) (The 11 first is manifest, 
the third is conceded to be self-evident ; otherwise we 
could not judge what is self-evident. The second and 
fourth have an infinity of self-evident truths to which 
others are added which are based on the testimony of 
several senses.) 

And so the first article is clear, viz. that the reasons 
[of Henry] are inconclusive, that his opinion is false and 
not in accord with the mind of Augustine. 

\Article II. The Rejection of Scepticism ]. As regards 
the second article, lest the error of the Academicians be 
repeated in regard to any of those things which can be 
known, we must see what is to be said of the three types 
of knowledge mentioned above, viz. whether it is possible 
to have infallible certitude naturally : ( 1 ) of self-evident 
principles and conclusions, (2) of things known by ex- 
perience, and (3) of our actions. 

[a. Certitude of First Principles ]. As to the certitude 
of principles, I have this to say. The terms of self- 
evident principles are so identical that it is evident that 
one necessarily includes the other. Consequently, the 
intellect uniting these terms in a proposition, from the 



eos, habet apud se necessariam causam conformitatis 
illius actus componendi ad ipsos terminos quorum est 
compositio, et etiam causam evidentem talis conformi- 
tatis, et ideo necessario patet sibi ilia conformitas cujus 
causam evidentem apprehendit in terminis. Igitur non 
potest in intellectu apprehensio esse terminorum et 
compositio eorum, quin stet conformitas illius com- 
positionis ad terminos, sicut stare non potest album et 
album, quin stet similitudo. Haec autem conformitas 
compositionis ad terminos est veritas compositionis. 
Ergo non potest stare compositio talium terminorum 
quin sit vera. Et ita non potest stare perceptio illius 
compositionis et perceptio terminorum, quin stet per- 
ceptio conformitatis compositionis ad terminos, et ita 
perceptio veritatis quia prima percepta evidenter 
includunt perceptionem istius veritatis. 

Confirmatur ratio ista per simile per Philosophum rv 
Metaphysicae * ubi vult quod oppositum principii non 
potest in intellectu alicujus venire, scilicet hujusmodi im- 
possibile idem esse et non esse, quia tunc essent opiniones 
contrariae simul in mente ; quod utique verum est de 
opinionibus contrariis, id est repugnantibus formaliter, 
quia opinio opinans esse de aliquo et opinio opinans 
non esse de eodom, sunt formaliter repugnantes. Ita 
arguam in proposito, repugnantiam aliquam intellec- 
tionum in mente, licet non formalem ; si enim stat in 
intellectu notitia totius et partis, et compositio eorum, 
cum ista includant sicut causa necessaria conformitatem 
compositionis ad terminos, si stet in intellectu haec 
opinio, quod ipsa compositio sit falsa, stabunt notitiae 
repugnantes ; non formaliter, sed notitia una stabit cum 

* iv, cap. iii (I005 6 , 23-24). 


very fact that it grasps these terms, has present to itself 
the necessary cause, and what is more — the evident cause, 
of the conformity of this proposition with the terms that 
compose it. This conformity, then, the evident cause of 
which the intellect perceives in the terms, cannot help 
but be evident to the intellect. That is why the intellect 
could not apprehend these terms and unite them in a 
proposition without having this relationship of con- 
formity arise between the proposition and the terms, any 
more than two white objects could exist without a relation- 
ship of similarity arising between them. Now it is pre- 
cisely this conformity of the proposition to the terms that 
constitutes the truth of a judgment. Such terms then 
cannot be combined in a judgment without being true, 
and so it is that one cannot perceive this proposition and 
its terms without also perceiving the conformity of the 
proposition to the terms, and therefore, perceiving the 
truth. For what is first perceived evidently includes 
the perception of the truth of the proposition. 

In Metaphysics,, bk. iv,* the Philosopher confirms this 
reasoning by a simile. There he points out that the 
opposite of a first principle such as “It is impossible that 
the same thing be and not be”, cannot enter the mind of 
anyone because then the mind would possess contrary 
opinions simultaneously. This is indeed true of contrary 
opinions, that is, propositions formally opposed to each 
other. For the opinions attributing existence and non- 
existence to one and the same thing are formally opposed. 
And so in the question at hand, I argue that there is 
some kind of repugnance existing between intellections 
in the mind, even though it is not exactly a formal 
opposition. For if the intellect possesses the knowledge 
of “whole” and of “part” and combines them in a pro- 
position, since they include the necessary reason for the 
conformity of the proposition to the terms, if the intellect 
were to think this proposition false, two mutually repug- 
nant acts of knowledge would coexist, even though the 


alia, et tamen erit causa necessaria oppositae notitiae 
ad illam, quod est impossibile. Sicut enim impossibile 
est album et nigrum simul stare, quia sunt contraria 
formaliter, ita impossibile est simul stare album et illud 
quod est praecise causa nigri, ita necessario quod non 
potest esse sine eo absque contradictione. 

Habita certitudine de principiis primis patet quomodo 
habebitur de conclusionibus illatis ex eis propter evi- 
dentiam syllogismi perfecti, cum certitudo conclusionis 
tantumodo dependeat ex certitudine principiorum et ex 
evidentia illationis. 

Sed numquid in ista notitia principiorum et con- 
clusionum non errabit intellectus si sensus omnes deci- 
piantur circa terminos ? Respondeo quantum ad istam 
notitiam, quod intellectus non habet sensus pro causa, 
sed tantum pro occasione, quia intellectus non potest 
habere notitiam simplicium nisi acceptam a sensibus. 
Ilia tamen accepta virtute sua potest simul componere 
simplicia, et si ex ratione talium simplicium sit complexio 
evidenter vera, intellectus virtute propria et terminorum 
assentiet illi complexioni non virtute sensus a quo 
accipit terminos exterius. Exemplum : si ratio totius 
et ratio majoritatis accipiatur a sensu et intellectus 
componat istam : Omne totum est majus sua parte, in- 
tellectus virtute sui et istorum terminorum assentiet 
indubitanter isti complexioni et non tantum quia vidit 


opposition is not precisely formal. The one act of know- 
ledge would be co-present with the other even though 
the first is the necessary cause of the very opposite of the 
second, which is impossible. For just as it is impossible 
for white to be at the same time black because the two 
are formally contraries, so it is also impossible to have 
the white where you have the precise cause of blackness. 
The necessity in this case is of such a kind that it would 
be a contradiction to have the one [viz. the knowledge of 
the terms and the proposition] without the other [viz. the 
knowledge of the conformity between the two]. 

Once we have certitude of first principles, it is clear 
how one can be certain of the conclusions drawn from 
such principles, since the perfect syllogism is evident , 12 
and the certitude of the conclusion depends solely upon 
the certitude of the principles and the evidence of the 

But will the intellect not err in its knowledge of 
principles and conclusions, if all the senses are deceived 
about the terms? I reply that so far as this kind of know- 
ledge goes, the senses are not a cause but merely an 
occasion of the intellect’s knowledge, for the intellect 
cannot have any knowledge of the terms of a proposition 
unless it has taken them from the senses. But once it 
has them, the intellect by its own power can form pro- 
positions with these terms. And if a proposition be 
evidently true by reason of the terms involved, the 
intellect by its own power will assent to this proposition 
in virtue of the terms and not by reason of the senses from 
which it externally received the terms. To give an 
example : If the notion of “whole” and the notion of 
“greater than” be taken from the senses and the intellect 
form the proposition “Every whole is greater than its 
part”, the intellect by its own power and in virtue of the 
terms will assent to this proposition without the shadow 
of doubt. And it does not assent to this because it sees 
these terms verified in some thing, as it does when it 



terminus conjunctos in re, sicut assentit isti : Sortes 

est albus, quia videt terminos in re uniri. 

Immo dico quod si omnes sensus essent falsi a quibus 
accipiuntur tales termini vel quod plus est ad decep- 
tionem, aliqui sensus falsi et aliqui sensus veri, intellectus 
circa talia principia non deciperetur, quia semper haberet 
apud se terminos qui essent causa veritatis, utpote si 
alicui caeco nato essent impressae \MS om. miraculose in 
somniis] species albedinis et nigredinis et illae remanerent 
post in vigilia, intellectus abstrahens ab eis componeret 
istam : album non est nigrum, et circa istam non deci- 
peretur intellectus, licet termini accipiantur a sensu 
errante, quia ratio formalis terminorum ad quam deven- 
tum est, est necessaria causa veritatis hujus negativae. 

[b. De cognitis per experientiam]. De secundis, sci- 
licet de cognitis per experientiam, dico quod licet expe- 
rientia non habeatur de omnibus singularibus, sed de 
pluribus, neque quod semper, sed quod pluries, tamen 
expertus infallibiliter novit quia ita est et semper et in 
omnibus, et hoc per istam propositionem qui est quies- 
centem in anima : Quidquid evenit ut in pluribus ab 
aliqua causa non libera, est effectus naturalis illius 
causae, quae propositio nota est intellectui licet acce- 
pisset terminos ejus a sensu errante. Quia causa non 
libera non potest producere ut in pluribus effectum non 
libere ad cujus oppositum ordinatur, vel ad quem ex 
sua forma non ordinatur. Sed causa casualis ordinatur 
ad producendum oppositum effectus casualis, vel non 
ad ilium producendum. Ergo, nihil est causa casualis 
effectus frequenter producti ab eo, et ita si non sit libera 
erit causa naturalis. Iste autem effectus evenit a tali 


assents to the proposition “Socrates is white”, because it 
saw the terms united in reality. 

Indeed, if the senses from which these terms were 
received were all false, or what is more deceptive, if some 
were false and others true, I still maintain that the intel- 
lect would not be deceived about such principles, 
because the terms which are the cause of the truth would 
always be present to the intellect. And so it would be 
if the species of whiteness and blackness were impressed 
miraculously in sleep upon one who was blind from birth 
and they remained after he awoke. The intellect could 
abstract from these and form the proposition “White is 
not black”. And it would not be deceived with regard 
to this proposition even if the terms were derived from 
erring senses, because the formal meaning of the terms 
at which the intellect has arrived is the necessary cause 
of this negative truth. 

[ b . Experimental Knowledge]. As for what is known 
by experience, I have this to say. Even though a person 
does not experience every single individual, but only a 
great many, nor does he experience them at all times, 
but only frequently, still he knows infallibly that it is 
always this way and holds for all instances. He knows 
this in virtue of this proposition reposing in his soul : 
“Whatever occurs in a great many instances by a cause 
that is not free, is the natural effect of that cause”. This 
proposition is known to the intellect even if the terms are 
derived from erring senses, because a cause that does not 
act freely cannot in most instances produce an effect that 
is the very opposite of what it is ordained by its form to 
produce. The chance cause, however, is ordained either 
to produce or not produce the opposite of the chance 
effect. Consequently, if the effect occurs frequently it 
is not produced by chance and its cause therefore will be 
a natural cause if it is not a free agent. But this effect 
occurs through such a cause. Therefore, since the latter 

( 2 , 322 ) 




causa, ergo illud est causa naturalis effectus frequenter 
producti ab eo, quia non est casualis. 

Iste enim effectus evenit a tali causa ut in pluribus, 
hoc acceptum est per experientiam, quia inveniendo 
talem naturam nunc cum tali accidente nunc cum tali 
inventum est quod quantacumque esset diversitas 
accidentium, semper istam naturam sequebatur talis 
effectus, igitur non per aliquod accidens isti naturae 
sed per naturam ipsam in se sequitur talis effectus. 

Sed ulterius notandum quod quandoque accipitur 
experientia de conclusione, puta quod luna frequenter 
eclipsatur, et tunc supposita conclusione quia ita est, 
inquiritur causa talis conclusionis per viam divisionis, et 
quandoque devenitur ex conclusione experta ad principia 
nota ex terminis, et tunc ex tali principio noto ex 
terminis potest conclusio, prius tantum secundum experi- 
entiam nota, certius cognosci, scilicet primo genere cogni- 
tionis, quia ut deducta ex principio per se noto, sicut 
istud est per se notum, quod opacum interpositum 
inter perspicuum et lumen, impedit multiplicationem 
luminis ad tale perspicuum ; et si inventum fuerit per 
divisionem quod terra tale est corpus interpositum 
inter solem et lunam, scietur certissime demonstratione 
propter quid, quia per causam et non tantum per ex- 
perientiam, sicut sciebatur ista conclusio ante inventio- 
nem principii. 

Quandoque autem est experientia de principio ita 
quod non contingit per viam divisionis invenire ulterius 
principium notum ex terminis, sed statur in aliquo uno 
ut in pluribus cujus extrema per experimentum scitum 
est frequenter uniri, puta quod haec herba talis speciei 


I 10 

is not a chance cause, it is the natural cause of the effect 
it frequently produces. 

That such an effect occurs frequently through such a 
cause is a fact gathered from experience. For once we 
find such a nature associated at one time with this 
accident and at another with that, we have discovered 
that despite the accidental differences, such an effect 
invariably follows from this nature. Hence, such an 
effect is not the result of what is merely incidental to 
such a nature but is rather the effect of this nature as 

It should be noted further that at times we experience 
[the truth] of a conclusion, such as : “The moon is 

frequently eclipsed”. Then, granting the validity of this 
conclusion because it is a fact, we proceed by the method 
of division to discover the reason for this. And sometimes, 
beginning with a conclusion thus experienced, a person 
arrives at self-evident principles. In such a case, the 
conclusion which at first was known only by experience 
now is known by reason of such a principle with even 
greater certainty, namely that characteristic of the first 
kind of knowledge, for it has been deduced from a self- 
evident principle. Thus for instance, it is a self-evident 
principle that when an opaque body is placed between 
a visible object and the source of light, the transmission 
of light to such an object is prevented. Now, if a person 
discovers by way of division that the earth is such an 
opaque body interposed between sun and moon, our 
conclusion will no longer be known merely by experience 
as was the case before we discovered this principle. It 
will be now known most certainly by a demonstration 
of the reasoned fact , 13 for it is known through its cause. 

Sometimes, however, we experience a principle in such 
a way that it is impossible to discover by further division 
any self-evident principle from which it could be derived. 
Instead we must be satisfied with a principle whose terms 
are known by experience to be frequently united, for 


1 1 1 

est calida nec invenitur medium aliud prius per quod 
demonstretur passio de subjecto propter quid, sed statur 
in isto sicut primo noto propter experientias, licet tunc 
certitudo et infallibilitas [ read incertitudo et fallibilitas] 
removeantur per istam propositionem : effectus ut in 
pluribus alicujus causae non liberae, est naturalis effectus 
ejus ; tamen iste est ultimus gradus cognitionis scienti- 
ficae et forte ibi non habetur cognitio actualis unionis 
extremorum sed aptitudinalis. Si enim passio est alia 
res absoluta a subjecto, posset sine contradictione sepa- 
rari a subjecto, et expertus non haberet cognitionem quia 
ita est, sed quia ita aptum natum est esse. 

\c. De actibus nostris ]. De tertiis cognitionibus, scili- 
cet de actibus nostris, dico quod est certitudo de multis 
eorum sicut de primis et per se notis, quod patet iv Meta- 
physicae,* ubi dicit Philosophus de rationibus dicentium 
omnia apparentia esse vera, quod illae rationes quaerunt 
utrum nunc vigilemus an dormiamus, possunt autem 
idem omnes dubitationes tales omnium enim rationum 
hii dignificant esse, et subdit, rationem quaerunt quorum 
non est ratio ; demonstrationis enim principii non est 
demonstratio. Ergo per ipsum ibi nos vigilare est per se 
notum, sicut principium demonstrationis. 

Nec obstat quod est contingens, quia sicut dictum est 
alias ; ordo est in contingentibus, quod aliqua est prima 
et immediata, vel esset processus in infinitum in con- 
tingentibus, vel aliquod contingens sequeretur ex causa 
necessaria, quorum utrumque est impossibile. Et sicut 

* iv, cap. vi (ion 0 , 6-13). 


example, that a certain species of herb is hot. Neither 
do we find any other prior means of demonstrating just 
why this attribute belongs to this particular subject, but 
must content ourselves with this as a first principle known 
from experience. Now even though the uncertainty and 
fallibility in such a case may be removed by the pro- 
position “What occurs in most instances by means of a 
cause that is not free is the natural effect of such a cause”, 
still this is the very lowest degree of scientific knowledge 
— and perhaps we have here no knowledge of the actual 
union of the terms but only a knowledge of what is apt 
to be the case. For if an attribute is an absolute entity 
other than the subject, it could be separated from its 
subject without involving any contradiction. Hence, the 
person whose knowledge is based on experience would 
not know whether such a thing is actually so or not, but 
only that by its nature is it apt to be so. 

[c. Knowledge of Our Own Acts]. Regarding the third 
type of knowledge, viz. of our acts, I say that we are 
as certain of many of these as we are of the first and 
self-evident propositions, as is clear from Metaphysics, 
bk. iv.* There the Philosopher says to the arguments of 
those who say that all that appears is true that they look 
for proofs of whether we are now awake or asleep. “All 
these doubts, however, amount to the same thing, for 
they all think that there is a reason for everything.” And 
he adds : “They seek the reason for things of which there 
is no reason, for there is no demonstration of a principle 
of demonstration”. According to him, then, the fact 
that we are awake is as self-evident as a principle of 

That such a thing is contingent matters not, for as we 
have pointed out elsewhere, there is an order among 
contingent propositions . 14 Some proposition is first and 
immediate. Otherwise, we should have an infinite 
regress in contingent propositions or something con- 
tingent would follow from a necessary cause, both of 

I 12 


est certitudo de vigilare, sicut de per se noto, ita etiam de 
multis aliis actibus qui sunt in potestae nostra, ut me 
intelligere, me audire, et de aliis, qui sunt actus perfecti. 

Licet enim non sit certitudo quod videam album extra 
positum, vel in tali subjecto, vel in tali distantia, quia 
potest fieri illusio in medio vel organo, et multis aliis viis, 
tamen certitudo est quod video etiamsi illusio fiat in 
organo, quae maxime illusio videtur, puta quando actus 
fit in ipso organo non ab objecto praesente, qualis natus 
est fieri ab objecto praesente, et ita si potentia haberet 
actionem suam posita tali positione vere esset illud ibi 
quod visio dicitur, sive sit actio sive sit passio sive 
utrumque. Si autem illusio fieret non in organo proprio 
sed in aliquo proximo quod videtur organum, sicut si non 
fieret illusio in concursu nervorum, sed in ipso oculo 
fieret impressio speciei qualis nata est fieri ab albo, 
adhuc visus videret quia tabs species, vel quod natum est 
videri in ea, videretur quia habet sufficientem distantiam 
respectu organi visus quod est in concursu nervorum 
istorum, sicut apparet per Augustinum xt De Trinitate, 
cap. ii,* quod reliquiae visorum remanentes in oculo 
oculis clausis videntur. Et per Philosophum De sensu el 
sensato , f quod ignis qui generatur ex elevatione oculi 
violenta et multiplicatur usque ad palpebram clausam, 
videtur. Istae verae sunt visiones licet non perfectissimae, 
quia hie sunt sufficientes distantiae specierum ad organum 
principale visus. 

(Nota : notitia principii est immutabilis a veritate in 
falsitatem, non aliter, quia simpliciter corruptibilis est ; 

* xi, cap. ii (Migne, P.L., xlii, 987). 
t cap. ii (437“ 23-24). 


which are impossible. And just as our certitude of being 
awake is like that of self-evident propositions, the same 
is true of many other acts in our power such as “I under- 
stand”, or “I hear”, and other such acts which are being 

For even though there is no certitude that I see white 
located outside, either in such a subject or at such a 
distance (for an illusion can be caused in the medium 
or in the organ or in a number of other ways), still for 
all that there is certitude that I see even when the illusion 
is in the organ itself, which seems to be the greatest of all 
illusions (for instance, when the same kind of act takes 
place in the organ without any object present as naturally 
should take place only when such an object is present). 
In such a case, if the faculty should act, that which is 
called vision would truly be present whether vision be 
action or passion or both. But if the illusion were not 
caused in the organ proper but in something near which 
seems to be the organ, for instance, if the illusion did not 
take place in the bundle of nerves but in the eye, a species 
similar to that which naturally results from an object 
would be impressed. In such a case there would still be 
an act of vision, for we would see such a species or what 
is to be seen therein because it is sufficiently distant from 
the organ of sight in the bundle of those nerves. This is 
evident from Augustine in De Trinitate, bk. xi, c. ii,* 
because after-images of vision are seen when the eye is 
closed. It is also evident from the Philosopher in De 
sensu et sensato , f because the flash of fire produced by vio- 
lently elevating the eye and transmitted as far as the 
closed eyelid is seen. Although these are not the most 
perfect, they are true visions, for in this case a sufficient 
distance intervenes between the species and the principal 
organ of vision. 

(Note 15 : Knowledge of a principle is immutable in 

the sense that it cannot change from truth to falsity. It 
is not unchangeable in the other sense, for it is simply 



sic species intelligibilis, non phantasma, est debilis, sed 
immutabilis a vera repraesentatione in falsem ; sed 
objectum licet corruptibile tamen est immutabile a vera 
entitate in falsam, et ideo est conformativum notitiae 
sibi seu causativum notitiae sive veritati in essendo, quia 
entitas vera immutabilis in falsam virtualiter continet 
notitiam veram immutabiliter, id est, conformem entitati 
verae.) (Nota : secundum Augustinum verum neces- 
sarium sive immutabile est supra mentem, intellige : in 
ratione veritatis evidentis, quia hanc de se causat in 
mente, non autem secundum ejus evidentiam subest 
menti ut possit apparere vera vel falsa, sicut subest verum 
probabile menti, ut ipsa possit facere illud apparere 
verum vel falsum, quaerendo rationes hinc inde per quas 
probetur et improbetur. Sic intelligendum est quod 
mens non judicat de vero immutabili, sed de aliis, quia 
dictatio quod hoc sit verum, quae est actus judicandi, est 
in potestate mentis respectu probabilis, non autem 
respectu necessarii, nec tamen minus perfecte asserit de 
necessario quod ipsum sit verum ; et haec assertio apud 
Aristotelem potest dici judicium, sed Augustinus vult 
judicium esse in potestate judicantis, non quod statim 
necessario determinetur ab alio. Sic patet quomodo de 
conclusione necessaria mens judicat quia non est statim 
ex se ; ideo non determinat ex se ad evidentiam sui ipsi 
menti. Potest etiam mens rationes sophisticas adducere 


perishable. Thus the intelligible species, not the image, 
is weak. Nevertheless, it is unable to change from a 
true to a false representation. But the object, although 
perishable, cannot change from something true to 
something false. As a result, it is able to conform 
knowledge to itself or to cause knowledge or truth 
by being what it is, for a true entity, unable to be- 
come something false, virtually contains true know- 
ledge immutably, that is, knowledge conformed to true 
entity.) (Note 16 : According to Augustine, necessary 

or immutable truth is “above the mind” — understand 
“taken precisely as evident truth”. For what is neces- 
sarily and immutably true causes this evident knowledge 
of itself in the mind, As evident, such a truth is not 
subject to the mind so that it could appear either true 
or false in the way that a probable truth is subject to the 
mind inasmuch as it is in the power of the mind to make 
it appear true or false by looking here or there for reasons 
that prove or disprove it. In this way we must understand 
the statement that the mind judges about other things 
and not about immutable truth. For it is only in the case 
of something probable and not in the case of something 
necessary that the assertion of its truth — an act of judg- 
ment — lies within the power of the mind. But this does 
not mean that the mind asserts the truth of a necessary 
proposition in a less perfect manner. According to 
Aristotle, the latter can be called a “judgment”, whereas 
Augustine understands judgment as something that is in 
the power of the one judging and not as something that 
is immediately and necessarily determined by a factor 
beyond one’s control. And so it is patent how the mind 
“judges” about a necessary conclusion that is not im- 
mediately evident of itself and therefore does not force 
itself upon the mind as something evident. The mind 
can even bring up sophistical reasons against the con- 
clusion in question and on the basis of these reasons refuse 
its assent. But this it cannot do with something that is 


I 14 

contra earn per quas dissentiat. Non sic contra primum 
notum, iv Metaphysicae * : In mentem venire, etc.) 

[d. De cognitis quae subsunt sensibus ]. Sed quomodo 
habetur certitudo eorum quae subsunt actibus sensus, 
puta quod aliquid extra est album, vel calidum, quale 
apparet? Respondeo : aut circa tale cognitum eadem 
opposita apparent diversis sensibus aut non, sed omnes 
sensus cognoscentes illud, habent idem judicium de eo. 
Si secundo modo, tunc certitudo habetur de veritate talis 
cogniti per sensus et per istam propositionem praece- 
dentem : Quod evenit in pluribus ab aliquo illud est 

causa naturalis ejus, si non sit causa libera. Ergo cum 
ab isto praesente ut in pluribus evenit talis immutatio 
sensus sequitur quod immutatio vel species genita sit 
effectus naturalis talis causae, et ita tale extra erit album, 
vel calidum, vel tale aliquid quale natum est praesentari 
per speciem genitam ab ipso ut in pluribus. 

Si autem diversi sensus habeant diversa judicia de 
aliquo viso extra, puta visus dicit baculum esse fractum 
cujus pars est in aqua et pars est in aere, visus semper 
dicit solem esse minoris quantitatis quam est, et omne 
visum a remotis esse minus quam sit, in talibus est certitu- 
do quid verum sit et quis sensus erret per propositionem 
quiescentem in anima certiorem omni judicio sensus, et 
per actus plurium sensuum concurrentes, ita quod semper 
aliqua propositio rectificat mentem vel intellectum de 
actibus sensus quis sit verus et quis falsus, in qua pro- 
positione intellectus non dependet a sensu, sicut a causa, 
sed sicut ab occasione. Exemplum : intellectus habet 
istam propositionem quiescentem : Nullum durius frangi- 
tur in actu alicujus mollis sibi cedentis. Haec est ita per 

* iv, cap. iii (1005 6 , 15 ff.). 


first known [viz. a primary principle] according to 
Metaphysics, bk. iv).* 

\d. Certitude of Sense Knowledge\. But how can a 
person be certain of those things which fall under the 
acts of the senses, for instance, that something outside 
is white or hot in the way that it appears to be ? I reply : 
Regarding such an object, either the same things appear 
opposite to different senses or they do not appear so but 
rather all the senses knowing such an object judge the 
same about it. If the latter be the case, then we have 
certitude of this thing perceived by the senses in virtue 
of the aforementioned principle, viz. “What occurs in 
most instances by means of something that is not a free 
cause is the natural effect of this thing”. Therefore, if 
the same change repeatedly occurs in the majority of 
cases when such an object is presented, it follows that the 
transformation or image produced is the natural effect 
of such a cause, and thus the external thing will be white 
or hot or such as it naturally appears to be according to 
the image so frequently produced. 

But if the judgment of different senses differs in regard 
to what is seen outside ; for instance, if sight says that 
the staff which is partly in the water and partly in the air 
is broken, or if sight says, as it invariably does, that the 
sun is smaller in size than it really is, or in general, that 
everything seen from a distance is smaller than it is in 
reality, in all such instances we are still certain of what 
is true and know which sense is in error. This we know 
by reason of some proposition in the soul more certain 
than any sense judgment together with the concurrent 
testimony of several of the senses. For there is always 
some proposition to set the mind or intellect aright regard- 
ing which acts of the senses are true and which false — a 
proposition, note, which the senses do not cause but 
merely occasion in the intellect. For instance, the 
intellect has this proposition reposing in it : “The harder 
object is not broken by the touch of something soft which 



se nota ex terminis quod etiamsi essent accepti a sensibus 
errantibus, non potest intellectus dubitare de ilia. Immo, 
oppositum includit contradictionem. Sed quod baculus 
sit durior aqua, et aqua sibi cedat, hoc dicit uterque 
sensus tam visus quam tactus. Sequitur, ergo baculum 
non est fractus sicut sensus judicat ipsum fractum, et ita 
quis sensus erret et quis non circa fractionem baculi, 
intellectus judicat per certius omni actu sensus. Simi- 
liter, ex alia parte quod quantum applicatum quanto 
omnino est aequale sibi, hoc est notum intellectui quan- 
tumcumque notitia terminorum accipiatur a sensu 
errante. Sed quod idem quantum possit applicari viso 
propinquo et remoto, hoc dicit tam visus quam tactus. 
Ergo, quantum visum sive a prope sive a remotis est 
aequale ; ergo visus dicens hoc esse minus errat. Haec 
conclusio concluditur ex principiis per se notis et ex 
actibus duorum sensuum cognoscentium ut in pluribus 
esse ita, et ita ubicumque ratio judicat sensum errare, 
hoc judicat non per aliquam notitiam praecise acquisitam 
a sensibus ut causa, sed per aliquam notitiam occasio- 
natam a sensu in qua non fallitur etiam si omnes sensus 
faliantur, et per aliquam aliam notitiam acquisitam a 
sensu vel a sensibus ut in pluribus quae sciuntur esse vera 
quae sciuntur esse vera per propositionem saepe allega- 
tam, scilicet : Quod in pluribus evenit, etc. 

[Tertius articulus. Solutio ipsius Henrici\. Quantum ad 
tertium articulum ex istis est respondendum ad illas 
rationes tres. 

Ad primam : ad illud de mutatione objecti, ante- 
cedens est falsum ; non enim sensibilia sunt in continuo 
motu. Immo permanent eadem in aliqua duratione, nec 


gives way before it”. So evident is this proposition upon 
analysis of its terms that the intellect could not call it in 
doubt, even if its terms were derived from erroneous 
senses. Indeed, the opposite of this proposition includes 
a contradiction. Now both sight and touch attest that 
the stick is harder than the water and that the water 
gives way before the stick. It follows therefore that the 
stick is not broken as the sense of sight judges. Hence, 
in the case of the “broken staff” the intellect judges by 
something more certain than any testimony of the sense. 
And so too with the other cases. Even though the terms 
be derived from erring senses, the intellect knows that the 
measure used to measure remains perfectly equal to itself. 
Now the sense of sight as well as that of touch tell us that 
the identical measure can be applied to a nearby object 
of vision and to a distant object. Therefore, the actual 
size of the object is equal whether seen from near by 
or from afar. Sight errs, consequently, when it declares 
the size to be less. This conclusion is inferred from self- 
evident principles and from the repeated testimony of its 
truth by two senses. And so when reason judges that the 
senses err, it does so in virtue of two kinds of knowledge. 
The first is a knowledge for which the intellect requires 
the sense only as an occasion and not as a cause — a know- 
ledge in which it would not be deceived even if all the 
senses were deceived. The other is a knowledge acquired 
by the oft-repeated testimony of one or more senses 
which are known to be true by reason of the proposition 
so frequently quoted, viz. “Whatever occurs in most 
instances, etc.”. 

[Article III. Reply to Henry s Arguments ]. In this 
third article, we must answer the three arguments [of 
Henry] 17 in the light of what has been said. 

As for the first argument (viz. that based on the change in 
the object) the antecedent is false. For sensible things 
are not in continual motion ; indeed, they remain the 
same for some time. Neither is this the opinion of 


I 16 

est opinio Augustini, sed error Heracliti et discipuli sui 
Cratyli, qui nolebant loqui sed movere digitum ut 
dicitur iv Metaphysicae * Et consequentia non valet, 
dato quod antecedens esset verum quia adhuc secundum 
Aristotelem, posset haberi certa cognito de hoc dato 
quod omnia continue moverentur. 

Non sequitur etiam : si objectum est mutabile, igitur 
quod gignitur ab eo non est repraesentativum alicujus 
sub ratione immutabilis, quia mutabilitas in objecto non 
est ratio gignendi, sed natura ipsius objecti, quod est 
mutabile, vel quae natura est immutabilis. Genitum 
igitur ab ipso repraesentat naturam per se. Igitur si 
natura, unde natura habeat aliquam immutabilem habi- 
tudinem ad aliquid, illud aliud per suum exemplar et 
natura ipsa per suum exemplar repraesentatur ut immu- 
tabiliter unita, et ita per duo exemplaria generata a 
duobus mutabilibus, non inquantum mutabilia, sed in 
quantum naturae, potest haberi notitia immutabilitatis 
unionis eorum. 

(Quamvis non in quantum mutabile significat, si 
tamen est mutabile, quomodo ejus ad aliud est habitudo 
immutabilis ? Respondeo : habitudo est immutabilis sic 
quia inter extrema non potest esse opposita habitudo, 
nec non esse ista positis extremis, sed per destructionem 
extremi vel extremorum destruitur. Contra : Quomodo 
propositio necessaria affirmatur si identitas extremorum 
potest destrui ? Respondeo : quando res non est, non 
est identitas ejus realis ; sed tunc si est in intellectu, est 
identitas ut est objectum intellectum, et necessaria 
secundum quid, quia in tali esse extrema non possunt 
esse sine tali identitate. Tamen ilia potest non esse sicut 

* iv, cap. vi (ioii®, 4-13). 


Augustine. It is rather the error of Heraclitus and his 
disciple Cratylus, who did not even wish to speak but 
only move his finger, as Metaphysics, bk. iv,* relates. But 
even if the antecedent were true, the consequence would 
still be invalid, for as Aristotle pointed out, wc could still 
be certain of this truth, viz. that all things are in con- 
tinuous motion. 

Likewise, it does not follow that just because an object 
is mutable, therefore the knowledge produced does not 
represent anything under an immutable aspect. For it 
is not precisely this mutability in the object that causes 
the knowledge ; it is the nature of this mutable object that 
does so, and this nature is immutable. Hence, the know- 
ledge produced by it represents the nature itself. And if 
it is the nature, this nature may have an immutable 
relation to something, and then both this nature and the 
other thing to which it is related, each by its own 
exemplar, are represented as immutably united. And 
so by means of two terms produced by two mutable 
things (though not in so far as they are changeable, but 
in so far as they are natures) it is possible to have a know- 
ledge of their immutable union. 

(Even 18 though something mutable is not signified in 
so far as it is mutable, how is it that its relation to another 
thing is immutable ? I reply that the relation is im- 
mutable in this sense, that the opposite relation could 
not exist between the extremes ; neither could this 
relation be non-existent, given these extremes. By the 
destruction of one or both extremes, however, this 
relation is also destroyed. To the contrary : How can 

we assert that the proposition is necessary if the identity 
of the extremes could be destroyed? I reply : When a 
thing is non-existent, it has no real identity, but in such 
a case, if it is in the mind it has an identity inasmuch as 
it is an object known, and this identity is necessary only 
in a qualified sense inasmuch as the extremes cannot exist 
in thought without possessing this identity. Neverthe- 



extremum potest esse non intellectum. Ergo, propositio 
necessaria in intellectu nostro secundum quid, quia 
immutabilis in falsam. Sed simpliciter necessaria non 
nisi in intellectu divino, sicut nec extrema habent identi- 
tatem simpliciter necessario in aliquo esse, nisi in illo 
esse intellecto.) 

Patet etiam quod repraesentatum in se mutabile, 
potest repraesentare aliquid sub ratione immutabilis, 
quia essentia Dei sub ratione immutabilis repraesenta- 
bitur intellectui per aliquid omnino mutabile sive illud 
sit species sive actus. Hoc patet per simile, quia per 
finitum potest repraesentari aliquid sub ratione infiniti. 

Ad secundum, dico quod in anima potest intelligi 
duplex mutabilitas, una ab affirmatione in negationem, 
et econverso, puta ab ignorantia ad scientiam, vel a non 
intellectione ad intellectionem. Alia quasi a contrario 
in contrarium, puta a rectitudine in deceptionem, vel 
econverso. Ad quaecumque autem objecta est muta- 
bilis anima prima mutabilitate, et per nihil formaliter in 
ea existens tollitur ab ea tabs immutabilitas. Sed non 
est mutabilis secunda mutabilitate, nisi circa ilia com- 
plexa quae non habent evidentiam ex terminis. Circa 
ilia vero quae sunt evidentia ex terminis, mutari non 
potest secunda mutabilitate, quia ipsi termini appre- 
hensi sunt causa necessaria et evidens conformitatis com- 
positionis factae ad ipsos terminos. Ergo si anima est 
mutabilis a rectitudine in errorem absolute, non sequitur 
quod per nihil aliud a se potest rectificari. Saltern 


less, this identity need not exist, even as the term need 
not be known. Therefore, the proposition in the mind is 
necessary only in a qualified sense inasmuch as it cannot 
become false. But it would only be necessary in an 
unqualified sense in the divine intellect, for the terms 
have an identity that is simply necessary in no other form 
of existence save that which they possess by being known 
by God.) 

It is also evident that something can be represented 
under an immutable aspect even if that which does the 
representing is something mutable in itself. For the 
essence of God is represented to the intellect as something 
immutable by means of something that is radically 
changeable, whether the latter be the species or the act of 
knowing. This is evident from a similar case, for some- 
thing can be represented as infinite through what is finite. 

As to the second , this changeability of the soul can be 
understood in a twofold sense : one from affirmation to 
negation and vice versa, such as from a state of ignorance 
to a state of knowledge or from a lack of understanding 
to understanding ; the other from one contrary as it 
were to another, such as from being right to being 
deceived, or vice versa. The soul, however, is changeable 
with regard to any object only in the first sense of muta- 
bility, and there is nothing which exists formally in the 
soul that will remove this kind of mutability. But the 
soul is not mutable in the second sense except in regard 
to such propositions as are not evident from their terms. 
But with those propositions that are evident from their 
terms, the soul cannot be altered in the second way for 
the terms which are apprehended are themselves the 
necessary and evident cause of the conformity of the 
judgment involving the aforesaid terms. Therefore, even 
if the soul is mutable in the sense that absolutely speaking 
it can pass from the state of being correct to a state of 
error, it does not follow that it can be set aright only by 
something other than itself. At least it can be set aright 

( 2 > 22 ) 17 


rectificari potest circa ilia objecta circa quae non potest 
intellectus errare apprehensis terminis. 

Ad tertium, dico quod si aliquam apparentiam 
haberet, magis concluderet contra opinionem illam quae 
negat speciem intelligibilem, quae est opinio ponentis 
istam opinionem hie, quia ilia species quae potest 
repraesentare sensibile tamquam objectum in somniis 
esset phantasma, non species intelligibilis. Igitur si 
intellectus solo phantasmate utatur per quod objectum 
est sibi praesens et non aliqua specie intelligibili, non 
videtur quod per aliquod in quo objectum sibi relucet 
posset discernere verum a verisimili ; sed ponendo 
speciem in intellectu, non valet ratio, quia intellectus 
non potest uti ilia pro se ut pro objecto, quia non 
contingit uti ilia in dormiendo. 

Si objicis : si phantasma potest repraesentare se ut 
objectum, igitur intellectus per ilium errorem virtutis 
phantasticae potest errare vel saltern potest ligari ne possit 
operari, ut patet in somniis et phreneticis, potest dici 
quod etsi legetur quando est talis error virtute phan- 
tastica, non tamen tunc errat intellectus, quia tunc non 
habet aliquem actum. 

Sed quomodo sciet vel erit tunc intellectus certus 
quando non errat virtus phantastica quam tamen non 
errare requiritur ad hoc quod intellectus non erret ? 
Respondeo : ista veritas quiescit in intellectu quod 

potentia non errat circa objectum proportionatum nisi 
indisposita, et notum est intellectui virtutem phantasti- 
cam non esse indispositam in vigilia tali indispositione 


in regard to those objects about which the intellect cannot 
err once the terms are grasped. 

To the third argument, I say that if it held at all, it 
would rather be valid against that opinion which denies 
the intelligible species — the view of the man who has 
advanced the opposing theory [viz. Henry of Ghent ]. 19 
For the species which is able to represent the sensible in 
dreams as though it were an object would be the sense 
image or phantasm and not the intelligible species. 
Therefore, if the intellect were to use the sense image 
alone so that the object would be present to the mind 
through the sense image and not in virtue of any in- 
telligible species, there seems to be no way of distinguish- 
ing between what is true and what merely appears to be 
true by means of something in which the object itself 
appears. But if we assume the existence of a species in 
the intellect, the argument does not hold, because the 
intellect is unable to use such a species as though it were 
an object in itself for the simple reason that it is not able 
to use such a species in sleep. 

You may object that if the sense image can represent 
itself as object, then it follows that the intellect could err 
by reason of this error in the faculty of the imagination, 
or at least, as is the case in dreams or with madmen, the 
intellect could be so bound that it could not operate. 
It can be said in reply that if the intellect is bound when 
there is such an error due to the imaginative faculty, 
then the intellect does not err for the simple reason that 
it does not act. 

But how will one know or how will the intellect ever 
be certain that the imagination does not err when the 
latter faculty must be free of error if the intellect is not 
to err? I reply that the following truth reposes in the 
mind. “A faculty does not err in regard to an object that 
is properly proportioned to it unless the said faculty is 
indisposed”. Now it is known to the intellect that the 
imaginative faculty is not indisposed during a waking 



quae facit phantasma repraesentare se tamquam objec- 
tum, quia per se notum est intellectui quod intelligens 
vigilat, ita quod virtus phantastica non est ligata in 
vigilia sicut in somniis. 

Sed adhuc instatur contra certitudinem dictam de 
actibus hoc modo : Videtur mihi quod videam vel 
audiam ubi tamen nec video nec audio. Igitur, de 
hoc non est certitudo. Respondeo : Aliud est contra 
negantem aliquam propositionem ostendere earn esse 
veram ; aliud est alicui admittenti earn ostendere 
quomodo sit vera. Exemplum : iv Metaphysicae* 

contra negantem primum principium non inducit 
Philosophus istud inconveniens, quod opiniones con- 
trariae simul essent in anima. Hoc ipsi concederent 
sicut praemissam, sed inducit eis alia inconvenientia 
manifestiora eis, licet non in se ; sed recipientibus 
primum principium ostendit quomodo sit notum, quia 
ita notum est quod oppositum ejus non possit venire in 
mentem, quod probat quia tunc possent opiniones con- 
trariae simul stare, talis conclusio est ibi magis incon- 
veniens quam hypothesis. 

Ita hie, si concedis nullam esse per se notam nolo 
disputare tecum quia constat quod protervus [MS' pro- 
tervis] et non es persuasus, sicut patet in actibus tuis, 
quomodo objicit Philosophus iv Metaphysicae, f som- 
nians enim de aliquo quasi in proximo consequendo sive 
obtinendo et postea evigilans non prosequeris illud 
sicut prosequeris vel prosequereris, si ita esses proximus 
in vigilando ad illud consequendum. 

Si autem admittis aliquam propositionem esse per se 
notam, et circa quamcumque potest potentia indisposita 
errare, sicut patet in somniis, ergo ad hoc ut aliqua cog- 

* rv, cap. iii (1005&, 25 ff.). 

t iv, cap. v (1010&, 10). 


state to such an extent that the sense image would repre- 
sent itself as an object, for it is self-evident to the intellect 
that when it knows, it is awake, and that, consequently, 
the imagination is not bound in a waking state as it is in 

But there is still another objection to the aforemen- 
tioned certitude about our actions. It runs as follows. 
I seem to see and to hear, whereas in reality I neither 
see nor hear ; consequently, I have no certainty on this 
point. I reply that it is one thing to show someone who 
denies a given proposition that it is true and quite 
another to indicate to someone who admits the given 
proposition how it is true. For example in Metaphysics, 
bk. iv,* the Philosopher does not adduce the inconsistency 
that “contrary opinions would be present in the soul at 
one and the same time” against those who deny the first 
principle [viz. of contradiction], for they indeed would 
concede this as a premise. Instead he brings out other 
inconsistencies which are more manifest to them though 
they are not more evident in themselves. But he does 
show those who grant this first principle how this principle 
is known. For it is known in such a way that its opposite 
could not even enter the mind. This he proves from the 
fact that otherwise contrary opinions could exist simul- 
taneously in the mind. Such a conclusion is, in this case, 
even more inconsistent than the hypothesis. 

So it is in our case. If you hold that nothing is self- 
evident, I will not argue with you for it is clear that you 
are a quibbler and are not to be convinced. This is 
apparent from your actions, as the Philosopher indicates 
in Metaphysics, bk. iv, j for if you dream of obtaining or 
going after some nearby object, after you awake you no 
longer seek it as you would do, or would have done, had 
you been that close to getting it while awake. 

If, however, you admit that some proposition is self- 
evident and that a power indisposed can err with regard 
to anything, as is clear in the case of dreams, then from 



noscatur per se esse nota, oportet quod possit cognosci 
quando potentia est disposita et quando non. Et per 
consequens potest haberi notitia de actibus nostris, 
quod potentia est ita disposita quod ilia est per se nota 
quae apparet sibi per se nota. 

Dico tunc ad formam hujus cavillationis, quod sicut 
apparet somnianti se videre, ita posset sibi apparere 
oppositum unius principii per se noti speculabilis, et 
tamen non sequitur quin illud principium sit per se 
notum et ita non sequitur quin sit per se notum audienti 
quod audiat, quia circa utrumque potest potentia indis- 
posita errare ; non autem disposita. Et quando sit 
disposita et quando non, hoc est per se notum ; alias 
non posset cognosci aliquam aliam esse per se notam, quia 
non posset cognosci quae foret per se nota, utrum ilia 
cui intellectus sit dispositus vel cui sic assentiret. 

[Articulus Quartos. Contra conclusionem Henrici ]. Circa 
quartum articulum contra conclusionem opinionis arguo 
sic. Quaero quid intelligit per veritatem certam et 
sinceram, aut veritatem infallibilem absque dubitatione, 
scilicet, et deceptione, et probatum est prius et declaratum 
in articulo secundo et tertio, quod ilia potest haberi ex 
puris naturalibus. Aut intelligit de veritate quae est 
passio entis, et tunc cum ens possit naturaliter intelligi, 
ergo et verum ut est passio ejus, et si verum igitur et 
veritas per abstractionem quasi, quia quaecumque 
forma potest intelligi ut in subjecto, potest intelligi ut in 
se et in abstracto a subjecto. Aut alio modo intelligit 
per veritatem conformitatem ad exemplar, et si ad 
creatum, patet propositum. Si autem ad exemplar 


the fact that something can be recognised as self-evident 
it follows that a person can tell when a faculty is disposed 
and when it is not. Consequently, in regard to our 
actions it is possible to know that a faculty is so disposed 
that what appears to be self-evident is actually so. 

As to the form of this sophistical argument, then, I say 
this. Just it appears to the dreamer that he sees, so also 
the opposite of some self-evident speculative principle 
might appear to him. But from this it still does not 
follow that such a principle is not self-evident. Likewise 
it does not follow that it is not self-evident to the hearer 
that he hears. For if a power that is indisposed can err 
with regard to either truth, a power that is disposed 
cannot. And it is self-evident when it is disposed and 
when it is not. Otherwise, nothing else would be 
recognised as self-evident, for one could never tell what 
would be self-evident, or whether this is something to 
which the intellect is disposed or to which it would assent 
in this way. 

[Article IV. Concerning Henry's Conclusion ] . In the 

fourth article I argue against the conclusion of [Henry’s] 
view 20 as follows : What, I ask, is meant by certain and 
unadulterated truth? Either it means infallible truth, 
that is, a truth which excludes all doubt and deception. 
And in this case, we have proved and declared already 
in the second and third articles that such truth is possible 
on purely natural grounds. Or by such truth he means 
truth as an attribute of “being”. In which case, since 
we can know “being” we can also know its attribute 
“true”. And if we know “true” we can also know truth 
by a kind of abstraction. For any form that can be 
recognised in a subject can also be known in itself and in 
the abstract apart from the subject. Or truth is to be 
understood in still another way, as truth of conformity 
to an exemplar. If the exemplar in question is taken to 
be created, we have what we seek to prove. If con- 
formity to an uncreated exemplar is meant, why such 


increatum, conformitas ad illud non potest intelligi nisi in 
illo exemplari cognito, quia relatio non est cognoscibilis 
nisi cognito extremo ; ergo falsum est quod ponitur 
exemplar aeternum esse rationem cognoscendi et non 

Praeterea secundo sic : Intellectus simplex, omne 

quod intelligit confuse, potest cognoscere definitive, 
inquirendo definitionem illius cogniti per viam divisionis. 
Haec cognitio definitiva videtur perfectissima pertinens 
ad intellectum simplicem. Ex tali autem cognitione 
perfectissima terminorum, potest intellectus perfec- 
tissime intelligere principium et ex principio conclu- 
sionem, et in hoc compleri videtur notitia intellectuals 
ita quod non videtur cognitio veritatis necessaria ultra 
veritates praedictas. 

Item tertio, aut lux aeterna quam dicis necessariam 
ad habendum sinceram veritatem, causat aliquid prius 
naturaliter actu aut non. Si sic, aut igitur in objecto aut 
in intellectu. Non in objecto, quia objectum in quantum 
habet esse in intellectu, non habet esse reale, sed tantum 
intentionale. Igitur non est capax alicujus accidentis 
realis. Sed in intellectu, igitur lux increata non immutat 
ad cognoscendum sinceram veritatem nisi mediante 
effectu suo, et ita aeque perfecte videtur opinio com- 
munis ponere notitiam in lumine increato, sicut ista 
positio ; quia ponit esse videri in intellectu agente qui 
est effectus luminis increatae et perfectior quam esset 
illud lumen accidentale creatum. Si autem nihil causat 
ante actum, aut ergo sola lux causat actum, aut lux cum 


conformity cannot be recognised unless the exemplar 
itself is known, for unless the term of a relation is known 
the relation itself cannot be known. Consequently, it is 
false to assume that an eternal exemplar is the reason why 
we know something when this exemplar itself remains 

Secondly, I argue further that simple intelligence 21 
can know by way of definition all that it knows in a con- 
fused manner by the simple expedient of discovering the 
definition of the thing known by way of division. This 
definitive knowledge seems to be the most perfect kind 
of knowledge that pertains to simple intelligence. From 
this most perfect knowledge of the terms, however, the 
intellect can understand the principle most perfectly ; 
and from the principle, the conclusion. Intellectual 
knowledge seems to be complete with this, so that no 
further knowledge of truth over and above the afore- 
mentioned truths seems necessary. 

In the third place, either the Eternal Light, which you 
say is necessary in order to have unadulterated truth, 
causes something naturally prior to the act or not. If it 
does, then this thing is produced either in the object or 
in the intellect. But it cannot be produced in the object, 
because the object, in so far as it exists in the intellect, 
has no real existence but only intentional existence. 
Therefore, it is incapable of any real accident. If this 
thing is produced in the intellect, then the Eternal 
Light transforms [the mind] to know pure truth only 
through the medium of its effect. If this be the case, 
then it seems that common opinion attributes knowledge 
to the Uncreated Light to the same extent as does this, 
for the common view assumes that knowledge is seen in 
the active intellect, which is the effect of the Uncreated 
Light, and indeed is a more perfect effect than this acci- 
dental created Light would be . 22 If this Uncreated Light 
does not cause anything prior to the act, then either the 
Light alone causes the act [of knowledge], or the Light 



intellect!! et objecto. Si sola lux, ergo intellectus agens 
nullam habet operationem in cognitione sincerae veri- 
tatis, quod videtur inconveniens, quia ista operatio est 
nobilissima intellectus nostri. Igitur intellectus agens qui 
est nobilissimus in anima, concurreret aliquo modo ad 
istam actionem. [Non in libro Scoti] 24 (et iterum actus 
intelligendi non magis diceretur unius hominis quam 
alterius, et sic superflueret intellectus agens quod non 
est dicendum, cum ejus sit omnia facere sicut possibilis 
omnia fieri. Similiter etiam secundum Philosophum 
in De anima : Intellectus agens corresponds in ratione 
activi, possibili in ratione passivi ; ergo quidquid 
recipit possibilis ad illud, aliquo modo se habet active 
intellectus agens). 

Et hoc etiam inconveniens quod illatum est ibi, con- 
cluditur ex opinione praedicta per aliam viam, quia 
secundum sic opinantem, agens utens instrumento non 
potest habere actionem excedentem actionem instru- 
menti. Ergo cum virtus intellectus agentis non possit 
in cognitionem sincerae veritatis, [MS om. lux aeterna 
utenti intellectu agente non poterit in cognitionem vel in 
actionem istius cognitionis sincerae veritatis,] ita quod 
intellectus agens habeat ibi rationem instrumenti. Si 
dicas quod lux increata cum intellectu et objecto causet 
istam veritatem sinceram, haec est opinio communis 
quae ponit lucem aeternam sicut causam remotam 
causare omnem certam veritatem, vel erit ista opinio 
inconveniens, vel non discordabit a communi opinione. 

[Articulus Quintus. Solutio Quaestionis]. Ad quaestionem 
igitur dico quod propter verba Augustini, debet con- 
cedere quod veritates infallibiles videntur in regulis 
aeternis, ubi potest li in accipi objective, et hoc qua- 
drupliciter : vel sicut in objecto proximo, vel sicut in 


with the intellect and object do so. If the Light does so 
alone, then the active intellect has no function whatso- 
ever in knowing pure truth. But this seems inconsistent 
because the latter is the most noble function of our 
intellect. The active intellect, then, which is the most 
noble [faculty of knowledge] 23 in our soul, must concur 
in some way in this action. 24 

And the inconsistency here inferred also follows from 
the aforesaid opinion in another way. For according 
to the one who holds this opinion, any agent using an 
instrument is incapable of performing an action which 
exceeds the action of the instrument. Therefore, since 
the power of the active intellect could not arrive at the 
knowledge of pure truth, the Eternal Light using the 
active intellect could not produce this knowledge or have 
anything to do with the act whereby pure truth is known 
and still have the active intellect function as an instru- 
ment. And if you say that the Uncreated Light causes 
this unadulterated truth together with the intellect and 
the object, this is the common opinion which assumes that 
the Uncreated Light acting as the remote cause produces 
all certain truth. Consequently, either this opinion [of 
Henry] is inconsistent or it is not at variance with the 
common view. 

[ Article V. Solution of the Question ]. 25 As to the 
question, then, I say that because of what Augustine has 
said, one should concede that infallible truths are seen 
in the eternal rules, where the term “in” can be taken in 
the sense of “in an object”. There are four ways in 
which this could be done : (i) either as in a proximate 
object, or (2) as in that which contains the proxi- 
mate object, or (3) as that in virtue of which the 



continente objectum proximum, vel sicut in eo virtute 
cujus objectum proximum movet, vel sicut in objecto 

[Prima Via]. Ad intellectum primi, dico quod omnia 
intelligibilia actu intellectus divini habent esse intelli- 
gibile, et in eis omnes veritates de eis relucent, ita 
quod intellectus intelligens ea, et virtute eorum intelli- 
gens necessaria veritates de eis, videt in eis sicut in 
objectis istas veritates necessarias. Ilia autem inquan- 
tum sunt objecta secundaria intellectus divini, sunt 
veritates quia conformes suo exemplari, intellectu scilicet 
divino ; et sunt lux quia manifestae ; et sunt immuta- 
biles ibi et necessariae. Sed aeternae sunt secundum 
quid, quia aeternitas est conditio existentis, et ilia non 
habent existentiam nisi secundum quid. Sic igitur 
primo possumus dici videre in luce aeterna, hoc est in 
objecto secundario intellectus divini, quod est veritas et 
lux aeterna modo exposito. 

[Secunda Via]. Secundus modus patet similiter, quia 
intellectus divinus continet istas veritates quasi liber, 
sicut ilia auctoritas Augustini dicit De Trinitate xiv, 
cap. xv * : quod istae regulae scriptae, scriptae sunt in 
libro lucis aeternae, id est, in intellectu divino inquantum 
continet istas veritates et licet ille liber non videatur, 
videntur tamen illae veritates quae sunt scriptae in libro 
illo primo, et eatenus posset dici intellectus noster videre 
veritates in luce aeterna, hoc est, in libro illo sicut in 
continente objectum 26 (et hoc secundum secundum 
modum vel in illis veritatibus quae sunt lux aeterna 
secundum quid, sicut in objectis videmus secundum 
primum modum). 

Et alter istorum modorum videtur esse de intellectu 

* XIV, cap. XV (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1052). 


proximate object moves [the intellect], or (4) as in a 
remote object. 

[The First Way], In explanation of the first, I say that 
all the intelligibles have an intelligible being in virtue of 
the act of the divine intellect. In these intelligibles all 
the truths that can be affirmed about them are visible so 
that the intellect knowing these intelligibles and in virtue 
thereof understanding the necessary truths about them, 
sees these truths in them as in an object. Now these 
intelligibles inasmuch as they are secondary objects of 
the divine intellect are “truths” because they are con- 
formed to their exemplar, viz. the divine intellect. Like- 
wise, they are a “light” because they are manifest. And 
there they are immutable and necessary. But they are 
eternal only in a qualified sense, because eternity is 
characteristic of something really existing, and these 
intelligibles “exist” only in a qualified sense. This then 
is the first way in which we can be said to see in the 
Eternal Light, i.e. as in the secondary object of the divine 
intellect, which object is truth and eternal light in the 
sense explained. 

[The Second Way]. The second way is also clear, 
because the divine intellect contains these truths like a 
book, as Augustine testifies in De Trinitate, bk. xiv, c. xv* : 
“These rules are written in the book of Eternal Light”, 
that is, in the divine intellect inasmuch as it contains 
these truths. And although this book itself is not seen, 
nevertheless those truths are seen which are written in 
this book. And to this extent, our intellect could be said 
to see truths in the Eternal Light, i.e. to see things which 
are in that book as in something which contains the 
object. 26 

And Augustine’s statement in De Trinitate , bk. xn, 



Augustini xii De Trinitate, cap. xiv,* quod ratio quadrati 
corporis manet incorrumptibilis et immutabilis, etc. Non 
autem manet talis nisi ut est objectum secundarium 
intellectus divini. 

Sed contra primum modum est dubium. Si enim non 
videmus istas veritates ut sunt in intellectu divino, quia 
non videmus divinum inteilectum, quomodo dicemur 
videre in luce increata ex hoc quod videmus in tali luce 
aeterna secundum quid, quae habet esse in luce increata 
sicut in intellectu cognoscente. 

[Tertia Via]. Huic respondet tertius modus, qui talis 
est : ilia ut sunt objectum secundarium intellectus divini 
non habent esse nisi secundum quid ; operatic autem 
aliqua vera realis non competit alicui praecise enti 
secundum quid virtute sui, sed si aliquo modo competit 
sibi, hoc oportet esse virtute alicujus cui competit esse 
simpliciter. Igitur istis objectis secundariis non competit 
movere inteilectum praecise nisi virtute esse intellectus 
divini quod est esse simpliciter, et per quod ista habent 
esse secundum quid. Sic ergo in luce aeterna secundum 
quid, sicut in objecto proximo videmus ; sed in luce 
aeterna increata videmus secundum tertium modum 
sicut in causa proxima cujus virtute objectum proximum 

Juxta hoc etiam potest did quod quantum ad tertium 
modum videmus in luce aeterna sicut in causa objecti in 
se. Nam intellectus divinus producit ista actu suo in 
esse intelligibili, et actu suo dat huic objecto esse tale et 
illi tale, et per consequens dat eis talem rationem objecti 
per quas rationes post movent inteilectum ad cognitionem 

xii, cap. xiv (Migne, P.L., xlii, ioii). 


c. xiv,* that the meaning of “square body” remains in- 
corruptible and immutable, and so on, can be understood 
seemingly in either of these two ways. For the meaning 
of a square body remains incorruptible and immutable 
only inasmuch as it is a secondary object of the divine 

But there is a doubt about this first way. We do not 
see these truths as they are in the divine intellect, because 
we do not see the divine intellect itself. How then can 
we be said to see things in the Uncreated Light — things, 
which exist indeed in the Uncreated Light as objects 
known by that intellect, but which we see only in some- 
thing which is the eternal light in a qualified sense . 27 
To this the third way gives the following answer. 

[The Third Way] . These intelligibles in so far as they 
are secondary objects of the divine intellect have existence 
only in a qualified sense. But something that exists only 
in a qualified sense, to the precise extent that it “exists” 
in this way, is incapable of any truly real operation . 28 
If such an operation pertains to it at all, it does so only 
in virtue of something which exists in an unqualified 
sense. Therefore, these secondary objects do not enjoy 
the power to move the intellect, to speak precisely, except 
by virtue of the existence of the divine intellect, which 
exists in an unqualified sense and through which the 
intelligibles have existence in a qualified sense. And 
so we see in the eternal light in a qualified sense as in the 
proximate object. But according to this third way we 
see in the Uncreated Light as in the immediate cause by 
virtue of which the proximate object moves [the intellect] . 

We can also be said to see in the Eternal Light in this 
third way inasmuch as this Light is the cause of the object 
itself. For the divine intellect produces this intelligible 
in existence and by its act gives to this object one type 
of being and to another a second type of being. Con- 
sequently, the divine intellect gives them such intelligible 
content as they possess as objects of knowledge. Now 



certain, et quod proprie posset dici intellectum nostrum 
videre in luce, quia lux est causa objecti. Apparet per 
simile : quia proprie dicimur intelligere in lumine 

intellectus agentis, cum tamen illud lumen non sit nisi 
causa activa, vel faciens objectum in actu suo, vel virtute 
cujus objectum movet, vel utrumque. 

Ista igitur duplex causalitas intellectus divini, quod 
est vera lux increata, videlicet quae producit objecta 
secundaria in esse intelligibili, et quod est illud virtute 
cujus secundaria etiam objecta producta movent 
actualiter intellectum, potest quasi integrare unum 
tertium modum vel membrum propter quod dicamur 
vere videre in luce aeterna. 

Et si objiciatur contra istos duos modos integrantes 
tertium membrum de causa, quia tunc magis videtur quod 
diceremur videre in Deo volente, vel in Deo ut voluntas 
est, quia voluntas divina est immediatum principium 
cujuslibet actus ad extra, respondeo : intellectus divinus 
inquantum aliquo modo prior actu voluntatis divinae 
producit ista objecta in esse intelligibili, et ita respectu 
istorum videtur esse causa mere naturalis, quia Deus non 
est causa libera respectu alicujus nisi quod praesupponit 
ante se aliquo modo voluntatem sive actum volun- 
tatis, et sicut intellectus ut prior actu voluntatis producit 
objecta in esse intelligibili, ita ut prior causa videtur 
cooperari illis intelligibilibus ad effectum eorum natura- 
lem, scilicet ut apprehensa et composita causent appre- 
hensionis conformitatem ad se. Videtur ergo quod 
contradictionem includit intellectum aliquem talem 
compositionem formare et compositionem non esse con- 


it is through their intelligible content that they afterward 
move the intellect to certain knowledge. And, properly 
speaking, it could be said that our intellect sees in the 
Light, because the Light is the cause of the object. This 
is clear from a simile : for we are said to understand 
properly in the light of the active intellect, although this 
light is nothing more than the active cause (i.e., that 
which makes the [potential] object actual, or that in 
virtue of which the object moves, or both). 

The fact then that the divine intellect, the true Un- 
created Light, has a twofold causality (viz. that it pro- 
duces objects in intelligible being and that it is also that 
in virtue of which the secondary objects produced actually 
move the intellect) — this fact can supply as it were a 
third type or mode of interpretation as to how we can be 
said to see truly in the Eternal Light. 

But suppose someone should object to these two ways 
of supplying a third interpretation on the following 
grounds. We should rather be said to see in God willing 
or in God in so far as He is will, for the divine will is the 
immediate principle of every act directed towards some- 
thing outside Himself. 

I reply that the divine intellect, as far as it is in some 
way prior to the act of the divine will , 29 produces these 
objects in intelligible being, and thus the intellect seems 
to be a purely natural cause in their regard. For God 
is not a free cause of anything unless volition as an elicited 
act somehow precedes the thing in question. Now, inas- 
much as the intellect produces objects in intelligible being 
prior to the act of the will, it would seem to co-operate 
as a prior cause with these intelligibles in the production 
of their natural effect — which effect consists in this : Once 
these intelligibles are grasped and formulated in a pro- 
position they cause the conformity of what is grasped 
[viz. the proposition] to themselves [as terms]. Con- 
sequently, it seems to involve a contradiction that an 
intellect should form such a proposition and still not 

( 2 , 322 ) 18 



formem terminis, licet possibile sit illos terminos non 
componere vel non concipere. Quia licet Deus volun- 
tarie coagat ad hoc quod intellectus terminos componat 
vel non componat, tamen cum composuerit, ut ilia 
compositio sit conformis terminis, hoc videtur necessario 
sequi rationem terminorum quam habent ex intellectu 
Deicausante illos terminos in esse intelligibili naturaliter. 

Et ex isto apparet qualiter non est necessaria specialis 
illustratio ad videndum in regulis aeternis, quia Augusti- 
nus non ponit in eis videri nisi vera quae sunt necessaria 
ex vi terminorum, et in talibus est maxima (naturalitas 
vel) necessitas tam causae remotae quam proximae 
respectu effectus, puta tam intellectus divini ad objecta 
moventia quam illorum objectorum ad veritatem com- 
plexionis de eis, et etiam licet non tanta sit (naturalitas 
vel) necessitas ad perceptionem (alius vel) alicujus veri- 
tatis quod oppositum contradictionem includat, tamen 
(naturalitas vel) necessitas est a parte causae proximae 
coassistente sibi causa remota, quia termini apprehensi 
et compositi sunt nati naturaliter causare evidentiam 
conformitatis compositionis ad terminos etsi ponatur quod 
Deus coagat terminis ad hunc effectum influentia 
generali, non tamen necessitate naturali. Sed sive sit 
influentia generalis sive quod plus est necessitas naturalis 
influendi terminis ad hunc effectum, patet quod non 
requiritur illustratio specialis. 

Assumptum de intentione Augustini patet per ipsum 


have this proposition conform to the terms even though 
it is possible that the intellect should not grasp the terms 
or formulate them in a proposition. For even though God 
freely co-operates with the intellect when it combines or 
does not combine these terms, still once the terms have 
been formed into a proposition, the conformity of the 
latter with the terms seems to follow as a necessary con- 
sequence from the very meaning of the terms — a meaning 
which they have by reason of the fact that the intellect 
of God has naturally produced these terms in intelligible 

From all this, it is clear why a special illumination is 
not required in order to see in the eternal reasons, for 
Augustine assumes that we see in them only such truths 
as are necessary in virtue of their terms. Now it is in just 
such truths that we have the greatest necessity between 
the effect and both its proximate and remote causes (that 
is, both on the part of the divine intellect in its relation to 
the objects which move [our intellect] and on the part of 
the objects in relation to the truth of the propositions 
about them). Even though the necessity of perceiving 
such a truth is not so great that not to perceive it would 
include a contradiction, still there is a necessity present 
which arises from the proximate cause [viz. the intelligi- 
bility of the terms] assisted by the remote cause [viz. the 
divine intellect which gives such ideas their intelligi- 
bility]. For once the terms are grasped and formed into 
a proposition, they are naturally able to make evident 
the conformity that exists between the proposition and its 
terms even though it be granted that God co-operates 
with these terms in producing their effect, not by a 
natural necessity, but by a general [free] influence. 
But whether it be by a general influence, or what is more, 
by a natural necessity, that God co-operates with the 
terms in producing their effect, it is quite clear that no 
special illumination is required. 

The assumption as to what Augustine meant is clearly 



iv De Trinitate, cap. xxxv,* loquitur de philosophis dicens 
nonnulli eorum poterunt aciem mentis ultra omnem 
creaturam levare et lucem incommutabilis veritatis 
quantulacumque ex parte attingere qui Ghristianos 
multos ex sola fide viventes nondum posse derident. Ergo 
vult quod Christiani credita non viderunt in regulis 
aeternis, sed philosophi vident in illis necessaria multa. 
Idem etiam ix De Trinitate , cap. vi f : Non qualis unius- 
cujusque hominis mens, etc., quasi diceret contingentia 
non videntur ibi, sed necessaria et in eodem iv, capitulo 
xxxvi | arguit contra istos philosophos, numquid quia 
verissime disputant aeternis rationibus omnia tempora- 
liter fieri propter ea, poterunt in ipsis rationibus aspicere 
quot sunt animalium genera, quot semina singulorum in 
exordiis, etc. Nonne ista omnia non per illam incommu- 
tabilem scientiam, sed per locorum ac temporum institu- 
tionem quaesierunt et ab aliis experta atque conscripta 
crediderunt. Ergo intelligit quod per regulas aeternas 
non cognoscuntur ilia contingentia quae tantum per 
sensus cognoscuntur, vel per historias creduntur, et 
tamen specialis illustratio magis requiritur in credendis 
quam in cognitis necessariis. Immo, ibi maxime remove- 
tur illustratio specialis et sufficit sola generalis. 

Contra : Quid igitur dicit Augustinus xii De Trini- 
tate, cap. xiv ** : quod paucorum est mentis acie pervenire 
ad rationes intelligibiles, et Octaginta tres quaestionum, 
quaestio xlvi f f : nonnisi purae animae ad illas pertingunt. 
Respondeo : Ista puritas non debet intelligi a vitiis, 
quia xiv De Trinitate, cap. xv,|| vult quod justus videt in 
regulis aeternis quid justum faciendum sit vel quid in his 

* rv, cap. xv (Migne, P.L., xlii, 902). 
t ix, cap. vi (Migne, P.L., xlii, 966). 
j iv, cap. xvi (Migne, P.L., xlii, 902). 

** xii, cap. xiv (Migne, P.L., xlii, ioio). 
ft 9- xlvi (Migne, P.L., xl, 30). 

Jt xiv, cap. xv (Migne, P.L., XLn, 1052). 


justified by what he says of the infidel philosophers in De 
Trinitate, bk. iv, c. xxxv * : “Some of them have been able 
to see through and beyond all creation and with their 
mind’s eye to reach at least in some degree the light of 
immutable truth, a thing which they ridicule many 
Christians, who live meanwhile by faith alone, for not 
being able to do”. He wishes to say, therefore, that 
Christians do not see in the eternal rules the things they 
believe and yet the philosophers see many necessary 
truths therein. And the same with De Trinitate, bk. ix, 
c. vif : “Not of what sort the mind of one particular 
man happens to be, etc.” — as if he were to say : “It is not 
contingent but necessary truths that are seen there”. 
And in the same work he argues against those philos- 
ophers : “Just because they argue most truly that all 
that happens in time takes place on account of eternal 
reasons, are they therefore able to perceive therein how 
many kinds of animals exist or how many seeds of each 
there were in the beginning, and so on. . . . Have they 
not sought all these things not by that unchangeable 
knowledge, but by the history of places and times, and 
have they not believed the written experience of others?” 
Consequently, he means that contingent truths known 
by the senses alone or believed on the account of others 
are not known through the eternal rules. And yet special 
illumination is required even more for what must be 
believed than for necessary truths. Indeed, this special 
illumination is least needed in the case of the latter ; 
general illumination alone suffices. 

On the contrary, Why then does Augustine say in De 
Trinitate, bk. xii, c. xiv : “It is only for the few to attain 
the intelligible reasons with their mind’s eye”, and in the 
Eighty-three Questions, q. xlvi : “Only the pure of soul 
reach them” ? I reply that he does not mean by this 
purity a freedom from vices, for in De Trinitate, bk. xiv, 
c. xv, he holds that the unjust man sees in the eternal 
rules what a just man must do and how he must regard 



sentiendum sit. Et iv libro cap. praeallegato,* vult quod 
plures non vident veritatem in regulis aeternis sine fide. 
Et quaestione eadem, f vult quod nullus potest esse 
sapiens sine cognitione idearum, eo modo quo Platonem 
concederent forsan sapientem esse. Sed ista puritas 
debet intelligi elevando intellectum ad considerandum 
veritates ut relucent in se, non tantum ut relucent in 

Ubi considerandum est quod res sensibilis extra causat 
phantasma confusum et unum per accidens in virtute 
phantantica, repraesentans scilicet rem secundum quanti- 
tatem, secundum figuram, et colorem, et alia accidentia 
sensibilia. Et sicut phantasma repraesentat tantum con- 
fuse et per accidens, ita multi percipiunt tantum ens per 
accidens. Veritates autem primae sunt praecise tales ex 
propria ratione terminorum in quantum illi termini 
abstrahuntur ab omnibus per accidens conjunctis cum 
eis. Non enim haec propositio : Omne totum est majus 
sua parte, primo vera est ut totum est in lapide vel ligno, 
sed ut totum abstrahitur ab omnibus quibus conjungitur 
per accidens. Et ideo intellectus qui numquam intelligit 
totalitatem nisi in conceptu per accidens, puta in totali- 
tate lapidis vel ligni, numquam intelligit sinceram veri- 
tatem hujus principii, quia numquam intelligit praecisam 
rationem termini per quam est veritas. Paucorum ergo 
est pertingere ad rationes aeternas, quia paucorum est 
habere intellectiones per se et multorum est habere con- 
ceptus tales per accidens. Sed isti pauci non dicuntur 
distingui ab aliis proter specialem illustrationem sed vel 
propter meliora naturalia, quia habent intellectum magis 
abstrahentem et magis perspicacem, vel propter majorem 

* rv, cap. xvi (Migne, P.L., xlii, 902). 

t loc. cit. 


things in their light. And in the fourth book, in 
the chapter cited above, he maintains that the philo- 
sophers saw truth in the eternal reasons even though 
they lacked faith. And in the same question, he holds 
that no one can be wise without a knowledge of the 
ideas in the way, for instance, that they would concede 
Plato to be wise. But this purity must be understood of 
the elevation of the intellect to the contemplation of these 
truths as they are in themselves and not as they appear 
in the sense image. 

Here we must remember that the sensible thing outside 
causes a confused sense image, something with only an 
incidental unity in the faculty of imagination, which 
represents the thing according to its quantity, colour and 
other sensible accidents. And just as the sense image 
represents things only confusedly and according to an 
incidental unity, so many perceive only such incidental 
combinations. Now, primary truths are primary pre- 
cisely because their terms are grasped in their proper 
nature and apart from all that is merely incidental to 
them. Now this proposition, “The whole is greater than 
its part”, is not primarily true of the whole as realised in 
a stone or in wood, but of “whole” in the abstract, i.e. 
apart from everything with which it merely happens to 
be joined. Consequently, the mind which never con- 
ceives totality except in an incidental concept such as the 
totality of a stone or the totality of wood, never really 
understands the pure truth of this principle, because it 
never grasps the precise nature of the terms to which the 
principle owes its truth. It is only within the power of 
the few to attain the eternal reasons, because it is only 
the few that have an understanding of the essentials, 
whereas the many grasp things merely in incidental 
concepts such as those mentioned above. But these few 
are not said to be distinguished from the others by a 
special illumination, but by better natural powers, since 
they have a sharper and more abstractive mind, or be- 



inquisitionem per quam aeque ingeniosus pervenit ad 
cognoscendum illas quidditates quae alius non inquirens, 
non cognoscit. 

Et isto modo intelligitur illud Augustini rx De Trini- 
tate, cap. vi,* de vidente in monte et vidente inferius 
aerem nubilosum et superius lucem sinceram. Qui enim 
tantum intelligit semper conceptus per accidens eo modo 
quo phantasma repraesentat objecta talia quasi entia per 
accidens, ipse est quasi in valle circumdatus aere nebu- 
loso. Sed qui separat quidditates intelligendo praecise 
eas conceptu per se quae tamen relucent in phantasmate 
cum multis aliis accidentibus adjunctis, ipse habet 
phantasma inferius quasi aerem nebulosum, et ipse est 
in monte inquantum cognoscit illam veritatem et videt 
verum supra ut illam veritatem superiorem in virtute 
intellectus increati, quae est lux aeterna. 

[Quarta Via], Ultimo modo potest concedi quod 
cognoscuntur veritates sincerae in luce aeterna sicut in 
objecto remoto cognito, quia lux increata est primum 
principium entium speculabilium et ultimus finis rerum 
practicarum et ideo ab ipso sumuntur principia prima 
tam speculabilia quam practica. Et ideo cognitio entium 
tarn speculabilium quam practicabilium per principia 
sumpta a luce aeterna ut cognita est perfectior et prior 
cognitione sumpta per principia in genere proprio sicut 
dictum est in quaestione ilia de subjecto theologiae, et est 
eminentior alia quacumque. Et hoc modo cognitio 
omnium pertinet ad theologum. Hoc modo sincera 
veritas cognosci dicitur quia per illud cognoscitur quod 
est tantum veritas non habens aliquid permixtum non 
veritatis quia per primum ens, a quo cognito sumuntur 
principia sic cognoscendi ; aliud autem quodcumque a 

* ix, cap. vi (Migne, P.L., xrn, 966). 


cause of greater research which enables one person to 
know those essences which another equally talented 
individual does not discover because he does not investi- 
gate them. 

And in this way we can understand Augustine’s state- 
ment in De Trinitate , bk. ix, c. vi,* regarding the indivi- 
dual on the mountain who sees the pure light above and 
the mist below. For whoever grasps nothing but inci- 
dental notions in the way that the sense image represents 
such objects, viz. as a kind of accidental aggregate, is 
like one in a valley surrounded by mist. But by grasping 
just what things are of themselves, a person separates the 
essences from the many additional incidental features 
associated with them in the sense image. Such a one, 
as it were, has the sense image in the mist beneath him, 
but he himself is on the mountain to the extent that in 
virtue of the uncreated intellect, the Eternal Light, he 
knows this truth and sees what is true from above, as a 
more universal truth. 

[The Fourth Way]. And finally, we can concede that 
pure truths are known in the Eternal Light as in a re- 
motely known object. For the Uncreated Light is the 
first source of speculative things and the ultimate end 
of practical things. The first speculative and practical 
principles, then, are derived from it. Hence, the know- 
ledge of speculative and practical things by means ol 
principles derived from the Eternal Light, where the 
latter is known , 30 is more perfect and prior to knowledge 
derived from principles from the respective class of things 
as such, as has been pointed out in the question on the 
subject of theology. Such knowledge is more eminent 
than any other. Now it is in this way that the knowledge 
of all things pertains to the theologian. In this way pure 
truth is said to be known, since truth alone without 
admixture of anything else is known, for it is known 
through the First Being. And once this Being is known, 
the principles for knowing in this perfect way are derived 



quo sumuntur principia cognoscendi in genere est 
verum defectivum. 

Hoc modo solus Deus cognoscit omnia sincere quia ut 
dictum est in quaestione de subjecto theologiae,* solus 
ipse novit omnia praecise per essentiam suam. Omnis 
autem intellectus moveri potest ab objecto alio ad cog- 
noscendum veritatem aliquam virtute ejus. Et hoc 
modo cognitio omnium pertinet ad theologum, sicut 
dictum est in quaestione ilia de subjecto theologiae, et 
est eminentior alia quaecumque. Cognoscere enim 
triangulum habere tres ut est quaedam participatio Dei 
et habens talem ordinem in universo quod quasi per- 
fectius exprimit perfectionem Dei, hoc est nobiliori 
modo cognoscere triangulum habere tres quam per 
rationem trianguli. Et ita cognoscere quod temperate 
vivendum est propter beatitudinem ultimam conse- 
quendam quae est attingendo essentiam Dei in se, per- 
fectius est cognoscere istud cognoscibile practicum quam 
per principium aliquod in genere moris, puta per hoc 
quod honeste vivendum est. 

Et isto modo loquitur Augustinus de luce increata ut 
cognita xv De Trinitate, cap. xxvii,f ubi seipsum alloquens 
ait : Multa vera vidisti et ea quae discrevisti ab ista luce 
qua tibi lucente vidisti ; attolle oculos ad ipsam lucem 
et eos in ea infige si potes ; sic enim videbis quomodo 
distat nativitas Verbi Dei a processione Doni Dei. Et 
paulo post : Haec et alia oculis tuis interioribus lux 
ista (monstrabit vel) monstravit. Quae est ergo causa 
cur acie fixa ipsam videre non poteris nisi utique 
infirmitas, etc. 

* Opus oxoniense , prol. q. iii. 
t xv, cap. xxvii (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1097). 


therefrom. But any other thing from which principles 
of knowing something in kind are derived is defective 

Only God knows all things purely in this perfect way, 
for as we have said in the question on the subject of 
theology,* He alone knows all things precisely through 
His essence. Nevertheless, every intellect can be moved 
by some object to know that something is true in virtue 
of Him, and in this way the knowledge of all things 
pertains to the theologian, as has been said in the question 
on the subject of theology. For to know that a triangle 
has three [angles equal to two right angles], in so far as 
this is a kind of participation of God and that it has such 
an order in the universe that it expresses more perfectly 
as it were the perfection of God, 31 — this is a nobler way 
of knowing a triangle has three [angles, etc.] than to 
know this truth from the notion of a triangle itself. 
Similarly, to know that one should live temperately in 
order to attain the supreme happiness, which consists 
in attaining the essence of God in Himself, is a more 
perfect way of knowing this practical truth than to be 
aware of it through some principle in the class of mores, 
for instance, through the principle that one is obliged 
to live uprightly. 

And in this manner Augustine speaks of the Uncreated 
Light as known in De Trinitate, bk. xv, c. xxvii,f where 
addressing himself, he says : “You have seen many 

things and these you have discerned through that Light 
in which you saw them shining forth to you. Turn 
your eyes to the Light itself and fasten them upon it, 
if you can, for in this way you will see how the nativity 
of the Word of God differs from the procession of the 
Gift of God.” And a little later : “This and other things 
this Light has revealed to your inner eyes. What then 
is the reason with fixed glance you are unable to see the 
Light itself, if it is not indeed your weakness ? . . 


I 3 I 

[Ad Argumenta Principalia] 

Ex dictis patet ad omnes auctoritates Augustini ad 
oppositum ; et secundum aliquem dictorum modorum 
“ videndi in ” exponi possunt auctoritates Augustini quae 
occurrunt de ista materia. 

[. Articulus Sextus. Quomodo rationes Henrici concludunt ]. 
De sexto articulo videndum est quomodo tres rationes 
factae pro prima opinione aliquid verjun concludunt in 
quantum accipiuntur ab Augustino, licet non concludant 
illam conclusionem falsam ad quam inducuntur. 

Ubi sciendum est [quod a sensibilibus, sicut a causa 
per se et principali, non est expectanda sincera veritas ; 
quia notitia sensus est circa aliquid per accidens, ut 
dictum fuit, licet actus sensuum aliqui sint certi vel 
veri ; sed virtute intellectus agentis, qui est participatio 
lucis increatae, illustrantis super phantasmata, cognos- 
citur quidditas rei, et ex hoc habetur sinceritas vera. Et 
per hoc solvitur primum argumentum Henrici ; et 
secundum intentionem Augustini non plus concludit. 

Ad secundam rationem Henrici dico quod anima 
mutabilis est ab uno actu disparato ad alium, secundum 
diversitatem objectorum, propter suam illimitationem et 
immaterialitatem, quia est respectu cujuslibet ends ; 
similiter ab actu in non actum, quia non semper est in 
actu ; sed respectu primorum principiorum, quorum 
veritas nota est ex terminis, et conclusionum evidenter 
deductarum ex terminis, non est mutabilis a contrario 
in contrarium, scilicet a vero in falsum. Regulae enim 
in lumine intellectus agentis intellectum rectificant, et 



[Reply to the Arguments at the Beginning] 

From all that has been said, it is clear how the citations 
from Augustine to the contrary are to be interpreted. 
The texts of Augustine concerning this matter can also 
be explained in terms of one of the aforementioned ways 
of seeing. 

[ Article VI. To What Extent Henry’s Arguments Hold ]. 
As to the sixth article, we must see how the three reasons 
adduced in favour of the first opinion in so far as they are 
taken from Augustine do prove some truth, although they 
do not establish that false conclusion for which they were 
advanced . 32 

Here we must recognise 33 that we should not expect 
pure truth from sensible things as from a primary and 
essential cause, for sense knowledge has to do with some- 
thing incidental, as we have pointed out , 34 even though 
some of the acts of the senses are certain and true. But 
the essences of things are known in virtue of the active 
intellect, a participation of the Uncreated Light, which 
illumines the imagination and in this way true purity [of 
truth] results. In this fashion, the first argument of 
Henry is solved. And according to the mind of Augustine, 
it proves nothing more. 

To the second reason of Henry, I say that the soul can 
change in the sense that it has now one act, now another, 
accordingly as objects differ. For the soul is not material 
and is unlimited in the sense that it can know and love 
anything whatsoever . 35 Likewise, it can be active or 
inactive, for it is not always in act. But with regard to 
the first principles the truth of which is known from their 
terms, or with regard to conclusions evidently deduced 
from the terms, the soul cannot change from one contrary 
state to another, i.e. from truth to falsity. For rules 36 
known in the light of the agent intellect keep the mind 
from erring, and even though the intelligible species 



ipsa species intelligibilis terminorum, licet in essendo 
sit mutabilis, in repraesentando tamen in lumine intel- 
lectus agentis immutabiliter repraesentat, et per duas 
species intelligibiles cognoscuntur termini primi principii, 
et ita ilia unio est vera et certa evidenter. 

Ad tertium dicendum quod concludit contra eum, 
quia non ponit nisi speciem sensibilem vel phantasma ; 
non autem concludit de specie intelligibili repraesentante 

Dicendum autem, quod si potentiae sensitivae non 
sunt impeditae, species sensibilis veraciter repraesentat 
rem ; sed in somno potentiae sensuum exteriorum sunt 
ligatae, ideo virtus imaginativa, conservans species 
sensibiles, secundum diversitatem fluxus humorum capitis, 
apprehendit eas tamquam res quarum sunt similitudines, 
quia vim rerum habent, secundum Philosophum, De 
motibus animalium * Non plus concludit tertia ratio.] 

* cap. vii (701 6 , 20). 


of the terms is mutable in its being, still in representing 
in the light of the agent intellect, the intelligible species 
represents things in an immutable way, and the terms 
of a first principle are known by two intelligible species 
and consequently the union [of the terms in a proposition] 
is true and evidently certain. 

As for [Henry’s] third argument, we must point out 
that it is telling against his own position, since he admits 
of no species other than the sense image or sensible 
species. But the argument is not effective where an 
intelligible species is held to represent the essence. How- 
ever, it must be admitted that if the sensitive powers 
are not impeded, the sensible species truly represents the 
things. In sleep, however, the powers of the external 
senses are bound. Wherefore, the imaginative power, 
conserving the sensible species according to the different 
movement of humours in the head, apprehends those 
species as the things themselves of which they are but 
likenesses, for they have the force of things, according to 
the Philosopher in De motibus animalium.* The third 
reason proves no more than this. 



Summary of the Argument 

Question : Can it be known by natural reason that there will 
be a general resurrection of mankind ? 

Pro et Contra 

Body of the Question 

Part I. A kind of a priori proof of the resurrection 
Method of procedure 

First proposition : The intellective soul is the specific 
form of man 

Proof based on testimony of philosophers 
Proof from reason : (i) An unsatisfactory formula- 
tion ; (q) Scotus’s formulation — (a) proof of the 

antecedent ; ( b ) proof of the consequent 
Second proposition : The intellective soul is immortal 
Arguments for immortality 
Arguments against immortality 
Scotus’s opinion 

Reply to the arguments for immortality 

Third proposition : The human soul will not remain outside 
the body forever 
Arguments for a resurrection 
Scotus’s opinion 
Reply to the arguments 

Evaluation of the a priori proof 
Part II. The a posteriori proofs of the resurrection 
Evaluation of the a posteriori arguments 
Part III. Solution to the Question 
Reply to the Arguments at the beginning 

( 2 , 322 ) 





Quaero utrum possit esse notum per rationem naturalem 
resurrectionem generalem hominum esse futuram ? 

[Pro et Contra] 

Quod sic : 

Desiderium naturale non potest esse frustra, Com- 
mentator secundo Metaphysicae. f Sed homo habet 

desiderium naturale ad semper essendum et istud 
desiderium potest esse notum ratione naturali ; ergo, 
etc. Probatio minoris : quia non fugitur aliquid natura- 
liter nisi virtute naturalis desiderii vel amoris ad aliud ; 
sed naturaliter homo fugit mortem. Hoc patet per ex- 
perientiam. Patet etiam per Apostolum ad Corinthios J : 
Nolumus expoliari sed supervestiri. 

Item, naturaliter notum est quod beatitudo naturaliter 
appetitur. Hoc patet ex primo Ethicorum** de beati- 
tudine in generali, et ex decimo f [ de beatitudine in 
speciali. Sed notum est per rationem naturalem, beati- 
tudinem non posse esse nisi sempiternam ; ergo notum 
est per rationem naturalem hominem esse ordinatum ad 
perfectionem aliquam sempiternam. Probatio minoris : 
Augustinus xm De Trinitate, cap. viii,JJ probat illud per 
rationem sic : Morientem vita ipsa deserit, si beata ; 

aut ergo nolentem deserit aut volentem, aut neutrum. 

* Opus oxoniense, iv, dist. xliii, q. ii (Assisi 137, f. 259V&-26 1 r& ; 
cf. Vives, vol. xx, 34“— 59*). 

t Averroes, Metaphysica, 11, com. 1. J 11 Cor. v. 4. 

** Ethica Nicomachea, 1, cap. vii (1097*’, iff.), x, cap. vii-viii 
(1177“ I2ss). tt x, cap. vii-viii (1177“, I 2 ff.). 

it xm, cap. viii (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1022). 



I ask : Can it be known by natural reason that there will be 
a general resurrection of mankind ? 

[Pro et Contra] 

Proof that it can be known 1 : 

[Arg. i], A natural desire cannot be in vain.f Man, 
however, has a natural desire to live forever, and it can 
be known by natural reason that such a desire exists. 
Therefore, etc. Proof of the minor : Where a natural 

aversion for something exists, it is only because of a 
natural desire or love for something else. But man has 
a natural aversion for death. This is evident both from 
experience and from what the Apostle says to the 
Corinthians J : “We do not wish to be unclothed, but 
rather clothed over”. 

[Arg. ii]. Also, it is naturally known that we seek 
happiness by our very nature. This is clear from 
Nicomachean Ethics, bk. i,** with regard to beatitude in 
general and from Nicomachean Ethics, bk. x,ff for beatitude 
in particular. But from natural reason it is known that 
beatitude must be eternal. Hence, it is known from 
natural reason that man is ordained to some eternal 
perfection. Proof of the minor : Augustine % t proves it 
thus : “And if life quits him by his dying, how can a 
blessed life remain with him? And when it quits him, 
without doubt it either quits him unwillingly, or willingly 



Si nolentem, quomodo est vita beata, quae ita est in 
voluntate, quod non sit in potestate ? Si autem volentem, 
quomodo beata vita erit quam finire voluit qui habebat ? 
Si dicas quod neutrum, nec velle, nec nolle, sed nec ilia 
beata est vita quae talis est ut quem beatum facit amore 
ejus indigna sit. 

Item, naturaliter notum est quod tota species non 
caret fine suo, quin ilium in aliquo individuo consequatur. 
Sed naturaliter notum est beatitudinem esse finem speciei 
humanae ; ergo et hominem posse consequi illam saltern 
in aliquo individuo ; sed non potest earn consequi in ista 
vita propter multas miserias quae concomitantur vitam 
istam utpote varietas fortunae, infirmitas corporis, 
imperfectio scientiae et virtutis, et instabilitas et fatigatio 
in exercendo actus perfectionis, in tantum ut nulla 
operatio, quantumcumque in principio delectabilis, pos- 
sit continue esse delectabilis, imo per ipsam fastidiendo 
delectabile erit cessare ab ipsa ; et notum est per ratio- 
nem naturalem operationem beatificam non esse fasti- 
diosam, nec potest a sola anima separata haberi, quia in 
hoc homo non consequeretur finem suum ; ergo habe- 
bitur in alia vita a toto conjuncto, et per consequens ad 
minus videtur per rationem naturalem concludi in quibus 
homo ad finem suum pertinget. 

Item, per rationem naturalem notum est quod omnis 
species quae est de integritate universi, est perpetua, 
quia totum integrum est perpetuum ; sed homo est 
species perfectissima, saltern inter ista inferiora. Nos 
enim aliquo modo sumus finis omnium, secundo Physi- 
corum* Ergo, etc. 

11, cap. ii (194", 35). 


or neither. If unwillingly, how is the life blessed which 
is so within his will as not to be within his power ? And 
whereas no one is blessed who wills something that he 
does not have, how much less is he blessed who is quitted 
against his will, not by honour, nor by possessions, nor 
by any other thing, but by the blessed life itself, since he 
will have no life at all. . . . But neither is that a blessed 
life which is such as to be unworthy of his love whom 
it makes blessed”. 

[Arg. hi]. Furthermore, it is known naturally that 
an entire species cannot fail to attain its end. At least 
the end must be achieved in some individuals. But it 
is naturally known that beatitude is the end of the 
human species. Therefore, it is naturally known that 
at least some individual can attain it. But he cannot 
attain it in this life because of the many concomitant 
miseries such as the vicissitudes of fortune, bodily in- 
firmity, imperfect knowledge and virtue, instability and 
fatigue in the exercise of even the most perfect acts, 
inasmuch as no operation, be it ever so delightful in the 
beginning, can continue to be delightful. Furthermore, 
when such an operation causes what is delightful to 
become distasteful, it will no longer be performed. Now 
it is known by natural reason that the beatific vision is 
not something distasteful. Neither is it something that 
the soul can possess alone in separation from the body, for 
in this way man would not attain his goal. Consequently, 
this end will be attained in another life by the whole 
man, body and soul together. It seems, then, that 
natural reason can reach this conclusion at least in regard 
to those ways by which man will attain his end. 

[Arg. iv]. Furthermore, by natural reason it is 
known that every species required for the integrity of the 
universe, is eternal. For the universe as an integral 
whole is eternal. Now man is the most perfect species, 
at least among terrestrial beings, for, Physics, bk. ii,* “we 
are in some way the end of all things”. Therefore, etc. 



Oppositum : 

Augustinus, xm De Trinitate, cap. ix,* loquens de vita 
immortali vel sempiterna dicit : Hac utrum careat 

humana natura, nec parva questio est. Humanis quippe 
argumentationibus hanc invenire conantes, vix pauci, 
magno praediti ingenio, vacantes otio, doctrinisque 
subtilissimis eruditi, ad indagandam solius animae im- 
mortalitatem pervenire potuerunt. 

Item, Act. xvii,f dicitur de quibusdam Atheniensibus 
audientibus Paulum, qui dicebant quoniam novorum 
daemoniorum videbatur annuntiator esse, quia Jesum 
et resurrectionem annuntiabat eis ; et tamen illi Athe- 
nienses erant philosophi, multum vigentes ratione natu- 
rali ; patet de Dionysio converso, qui fuit unus eorum ; 
ergo istud quod videbatur eis ita remotum a veritate, 
non videtur esse bene notum per rationem naturalem ; 
unde omnia quae adducit ibi Paulus, non sunt nisi 
quaedam persuasiones ut patet ibi. 

Item, Act. xxvi,J cum diceret Paulus : Si passibilis 

Christus, si primus ex resurrectione, etc. Festus magna 
voce dixit : Insanis, Paule. 

[Corpus Quaestionis] 

[ Pars Prima : Ratio quodammodo a priori ] 

Hie manifestum est quod si aliqua ratio ostendat 
resurrectionem, oportet quod accipiatur ex aliquo, quod 
est proprium hominis, ita quod non conveniat aliis corrup- 
tibilibus. Hoc autem non est materia etiam incorrupti- 
bilis, nec forma aliqua destructibilis, quia etsi tabs sit 
in homine, et excellentior omni forma bruti, tamen ex 

* xm, cap. ix (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1023). 
f Acts, xvii. 18. J loc. cit. xxvi. 23-24. 


To the contrary : 

[Arg. 1]. Augustine, speaking of the life that is eternal 
and immortal in De Trinitate bk. xiii, c. ix,* says : 
“Whether human nature can receive this ... is no 
small question. . . . Assuredly, of those who endeavour 
to discover it from human reasonings, scarcely a few, 
and they endowed with great abilities and abounding 
in leisure, and learned with the most subtle learning, 
have been able to attain to the investigation of the im- 
mortality of the soul alone”. 

[Arg. 11] . Furthermore, in Acts xvii,f it is related that 
certain Athenians listening to Paul said : “ ‘He seems to 
be a herald of strange gods’, because he proclaimed to 
them Jesus and the resurrection”. Nevertheless, these 
Athenians were philosophers whose forte was the use 
of natural reason, as is clear from the case of the convert 
Dionysius, who was one of them. But it does not 
seem that what appeared to them to be so far from the 
truth is known adequately by natural reason. Hence, 
it is evident here that what Paul adduces in this con- 
nexion is meant to be nothing more than a kind of 
persuasive form of argumentation. 

[Arg. iii]. Furthermore, when Paul said in Acts xxvi,J 
“that Christ was to suffer, that he first by his resurrec- 
tion [from the dead was to proclaim light to the people 
and to the Gentiles . . .] Festus said with a loud voice, 
‘Paul, thou art mad !’ ” 

[Body of the Question] 

[Part I. A Kind of A. Priori Proof] 

This much is clear, if any argument proves the resur- 
rection, it must be one based on something that is proper 
to man and does not belong to other perishable things. 
But such a thing would not be matter, not even incor- 
ruptible matter . 2 Neither is it some form that can be 
destroyed. For even if such a form exist in man and 



ilia non potest sumi ratio sufficiens ad probanduin 
resurrectionem totius ; ergo oportet quod accipiatur a 
forma specifica hominis vel ab operatione conveniente 
homini secundum illam formam. 

Isto modo procedente ex tribus propositionibus con- 
cluditur propositum, et si omnes illae essent ratione 
naturali notae, haberemus propositum. Sunt autem 
istae : “Anima intellectiva est forma specifica hominis” ; 
secunda, “Anima intellectiva est incorruptibilis” ; ex 
quibus sequitur quod forma specifica hominis est incor- 
ruptibilis. Additur tertia, quod “forma hominis specifica 
non remanebit perpetuo extra suum totum” ; sequitur 
ergo quod aliquando redibit totum idem. Ista reditio 
iterata, vocatur resurrectio secundum Damascenum lib. 
iv, cap. xix * : Resurrectio secunda est ejus, quod disso- 
lutum est, surrectio. De istis tribus propositionibus, 
qualiter notae sunt, videamus per ordinem. 

[ Propositio I. Anima intellectiva est forma specifica hominis ]. 
De prima dicitur quod est ratione naturali nota, quod 
ostenditur dupliciter : uno modo per auctoritates Philo- 
sophorum, qui hoc asserebant, et nonnisi tanquam 
ratione naturali notum ; alio modo adducendo rationes 
naturales, ex quibus hoc concluditur. 

De primo : Aristoteles definit animam n De anima , f 
quod est actus corporis physici, organici, etc. Et in 
principio tertii, J dicit de parte autem animae, qua 
cognoscit et sapit, ubi videtur ponere animam intellec- 
tivam partem saltern subjectivam animae prius definitae 
in communi. 

Item, omnes philosophi tamquam differentiam ejus 
propriam communiter posuerunt in definitione hominis 

* Defide orthodoxa, iv, cap. xxvi (Migne, P.G., xciv, 1220). 
t n, cap. i (412“, 28). { hi, cap. iv (429®, 10). 


indeed, one even more excellent than any brute form, 
still this would not provide an adequate argument for 
the resurrection of man as a whole. Hence, the argument 
must be based upon that form which is specific to man 
or upon some operation which man enjoys by reason 
of this form. 

[. Method of Procedure ]. The method used to establish 
the thesis is to proceed from three propositions. If all 
three of these can be known by natural reason, the 
proposed conclusion will follow. The three propositions 
are these : (1) The intellective soul is the specific form of man ; 
(2) The intellective soul is incorruptible. From these two 
it follows that the specific form of man is incorruptible. 
To these a third is added : (3) The specific form of man 

will not remain forever outside the composite. Hence it 
follows that at some time the same composite will be 
restored. This second return Damascene calls the resur- 
rection * : “The resurrection is the second rising of what 
has been dissolved”. Let us consider these three proposi- 
tions in order and see to what extent they are evident. 

[First Proposition. The intellective soul is the specific form 
of man]. This first proposition is said to be known by 
natural reason and is proved in two ways. The first 
proof is based upon the testimony of philosophers who 
assert this as something known by natural reason alone. 
The other proceeds from natural arguments which lead 
to this conclusion. 

[Proof based on the testimony of the philosophers]. 
As to the first, Aristotle defines the soul in the De anima, 
bk. 11, f as “the act of the natural organised body”, and 
so on. And in the beginning of bk. m,J he speaks 
of “the part of the soul with which the soul knows and 
thinks . . .”, where he seems to make the intellective 
soul at least a subjective part, 3 of what he has previously 
defined as the soul in general. 

Furthermore, all philosophers commonly assign 
“rational” as the difference that properly defines man, 



rationale, per rationale intelligentes animam intellec- 
tivam esse partem essentialem ejus. 

Nee breviter invenitur aliquis philosophus notabilis, 
qui hoc neget, licet ille maledictus Averroes in fictione 
sua in De anima* quae tamen non est intelligibilis, nec 
sibi, nec alii, ponat intellectivam quamdam substantiam 
separatam mediantibus phantasmatibus conjunctam ; 
quam conjunctionem nec ipse nec aliquis sequax potuit 
explicare, nec per illam conjunctionem salvare hominem 
intelligere. Nam secundum ipsum homo formaliter non 
esset nisi quoddam animal irrationale excellens, per 
quandam tamen animam irrationalem et sensitivam 
excellentiorem aliis animabus. 

De secundo : ad propositum non invenitur faciliter 

ratio a priori neque a posteriori, nisi ex propria opera- 
tione hominis, siquidem forma innotescit ex propria 
operatione, sicut materia ex transmutatione. 

[1. Ratio Inadaequata] . Ex operatione ergo intelli- 
gendi arguitur propositum sic : intelligere est propria 
operatio hominis ; ergo egreditur a propria forma ; ergo 
intellectiva est propria forma hominis. 

Sed ista ratio patitur instantiam quia intellectus ad 
intelligere se habet secundum eos tantum passive, et non 
active ; ergo ista propositio, propria operatio est a 
propria forma, non probat intellectivam esse propriam 
formam hominis, siquidem ab ipsa non est ista operatio 
secundum eos, sed ab objecto intelligibili vel secundum 
aliquos a phantasmate. 

[2. Ratio Scoti\. Ideo ex ilia opinione, formo 


meaning by “rational” that the intellective soul is an 
essential part of man. 

In fact, to put it briefly, no philosopher of any note can 
be found to deny this except that accursed Averroes in 
his commentary on De anima, bk. iii,* where his fantastic 
conception, intelligible neither to himself nor to others, 
assumes the intellective part of man to be a sort of 
separate substance united to man through the medium 
of sense images. But neither he nor his followers to the 
present day have been able to explain this union. Nor 
can it be maintained that in virtue of such a union man 
himself understands, for according to him, man as such 
is nothing more than a kind of irrational animal which 
excels the other animals by reason of an irrational sensi- 
tive soul that is more excellent than other souls. 

[Proof from reason] . As to the second, it is not easy 
to find either an a priori or an a posteriori argument, unless 
it be based on a function proper to man, for the form is 
known from its proper function, even as matter is known 
from the existence of change. 

[1. An Unsatisfactory Formulation ]. One argument 4 

based on the function of the intellect that is used to 
establish the proposed conclusion is this. To understand 
is a function proper to man. Therefore, it has its source 
in the form proper to man. The intellective form then is 
that proper to man. 

This argument, however, is open to criticism inasmuch 
as those who propound it admit that the intellect has 
only a passive and not an active relation to intellection. 
Hence, this proposition “A function that is proper pro- 
ceeds from the proper form” really does not prove that 
the intellective part is the proper form of man, for this 
operation does not proceed from the form but accord- 
ing to them 5 it is caused by the intelligible object, or 
according to the view of others it proceeds from the sense 
image. 6 

[2. Scotus’s Formulation\. I put this argument, then, 



rationem aliter sic : Homo intelligit formaliter et 

proprie ; ergo anima intellectiva est proprie forma 

Antecedens videtur satis manifestum secundum auc- 
toritates Aristotelis tertio De anima* et primo Ethi- 
corum ,f quod intelligere est propria operatio hominis. 
Operatio autem ut distinguitur contra actionem seu 
factionem formaliter inest operanti, et non est ab 
ipso in alterum. Gonsimiliter decimo Ethicorum J in 
intelligere ponit felicitatem hominis, et manifestum est 
quod ilia felicitas inest formaliter homini ; ergo et ilia 
operatio in qua consistit. 

Sed tentandum est probare antecedens per rationem 
contra protervum si neget, et hoc intelligendo in ante- 
cedente intelligere proprie dictum per quod intelligo 
actum cognoscendi transcendentem totum genus sensiti- 
vae cognitionis. 

Probatur ergo illud antecedens uno modo sic. Homo 
cognoscit actu cognoscendi, non organico ; ergo intel- 
ligit proprie. Consequentia patet ex ratione jam posita, 
quia intellectio proprie est cognitio transcendens totum 
genus sensationis ; omnis autem sensatio est cognitio 
organica ex secundo De anima. Antecedens hujus 
enthymematis probatur, nam organum determinatur ad 
certum genus sensibilium ex n De anima,** et hoc ideo 
quia consistit in media proportione extremorum illius 
generis. Sed aliquam cognitionem experimur in nobis 
quae non competit nobis secundum tale organum, quia 
tunc determinaretur praecise ad sensibilia determinati 
generis, cujus oppositum experimur, quia cognoscimus 

* in, cap. iii, passim. 

'[' Ethica Nicomachea, 1, cap. vii (1098®, 7). 

+ x, cap. viii (1178*, 21). 

** ii, cap. v-xii, passim (416&, 32SS ; 424®, 25-26). 


in another form. Man formally and properly understands ; 
therefore , the intellective soul is the proper form of man. 

[a. Proof of the antecedent] . The antecedent seems to 
be clear enough according to the testimony of Aristotle 
in De anima, bk. iii,* and JVicomachean Ethics, bk. i,| since 
to understand is the proper operation of man. Now an 
operation, in contradistinction to an act of fashioning 
something or to an action, is formally in the one who 
performs the operation and is not produced by the agent 
in something else. Similarly Aristotle in Nicomachean 
Ethics, bk. x,J makes man’s happiness consist in under- 
standing. Now it is clear that this felicity is formally in 
man. Consequently the operation in which this felicity 
consists must also be in man formally. 

Nevertheless, we should try to prove the antecedent 
by reason lest some contentious individual deny it. Now 
in the antecedent, I take “to know” or “to understand” 
in the proper sense of the term as an act of knowledge 
which transcends every type of sense knowledge. 

[ First proof]. One way of proving this antecedent, 
then, is this. Man knows by an act of knowledge which 
is not organic ; hence he knows or understands in the 
proper sense of the term. The consequence is evident 
for the reason already given, since intellection properly 
speaking is a knowledge which transcends all sense 
knowledge. All sensation, however, is organic knowledge 
as Aristotle shows in De anima, bk. ii. There the ante- 
cedent of this enthymeme is proved from the fact that 
every organ is determined to a certain kind of sensible , 7 
and this because it consists in a balance between two 
extremes . 8 But we do experience in ourselves some 
knowledge which we do not have in virtue of some 
organ, for if it were organic, this knowledge would be 
limited precisely to the sensibles of some determined 
kind, which is the very opposite of what we actually 



per talem actum differentiam cujuscumque generis 
sensibilium ad aliud, quod non est aliquid illius generis ; 
ergo cognoscimus utrumque extremum. Patet ista 
consequentia secundum Philosophum sic arguentem 11 
De anima * de sensu communi. 

Sed hie instatur primo, quia cognitio organica est, 
quae inest secundum determinatam partem corporis ; 
ilia autem de qua arguitur, quod per illam distinguimus 
sensibilia a non sensibilibus, inest toti primo, et ideo non 
est per aliquod organum proprie loquendo ; tamen non 
transcendit totum genus cognitionis sensitivae secundum 
perfectionem, quia inest primo toti, et per consequens ita 
est materiale, sicut illud quod inest toti per partem ; ita 
enim passio totius est materialis, sicut quod inest toti per 
partem. Secundo negatur assumptum quod ille actus 
non inest secundum aliquod organum, quia inest secun- 
dum organum phantasiae ; cujus probatio est, quia illo 
laeso impeditur cognitio. Nec probatio ilia de deter- 
minatione organi ad certum genus concludit, quia phan- 
tasia extendit se ad omnia sensibilia. 

Sed prima instantia exclusa est per quoddam ibi 
tactum, quia per ilium actum discernimus totum genus 
sensibilium ab aliquo extra totum genus illud ; nec ilia 
probatio, quod impeditur iste actus laeso organo phanta- 
siae concludit ; hoc enim est propter ordinem istarum 
potentiarum in operando, non autem quia intellectio 
exerceatur mediante isto organo. 

Aliter probatur antecedens principale, quia aliqua 

* De anima, in, cap. i (425“, 30 ff.). 


experience. For by such an act we know precisely how 
one kind of sensible differs from another, and con- 
quently we know both extremes. This consequence is 
evident from the Philosopher, who uses this argument 
in De anima, bk. ii,* in regard to common sense. 

But to this some object, first of all, that organic know- 
ledge is that which is present in some determinate part of 
the body, whereas the aforesaid knowledge by which we 
distinguish sensibles from things that cannot be perceived 
by the senses, is present in the body as a whole and for 
this reason is not had in virtue of some organ in the proper 
sense of the word. For an attribute of the whole is as 
material as something which exists in one of its parts. 
Nevertheless, this knowledge does not transcend in per- 
fection the whole class of sense knowledge since it is 
primarily in the body as a whole and hence is just as 
material in character as the knowledge in only a part 
of the whole. Secondly, they deny the assumption that 
this act of knowledge is not present in virtue of some 
organ because it is there by reason of the organ of the 
imagination. Proof for this is found in the fact that when 
this organ is damaged, such knowledge is no longer 
possible. Neither is the proof from the limitation of the 
organ to a certain kind of sensible conclusive, because 
the imagination extends to all sensibles. 

The first objection, however, has already been excluded 
by what was treated above, for through this act of know- 
ledge we discern the difference between the whole class 
of sensibles and something that is outside the class as a 
whole. Neither does the argument that this act is 
impeded by damage done to the imagination prove 
anything. For this is due to the functional relation that 
exists between these powers and not because the act of 
understanding is exercised through the medium of an 

[ Second proof \ Another proof for the principal ante- 
cedent is based on the fact that we possess some immaterial 



cognitio immaterialis est in nobis ; nulla sensitiva potest 
esse immaterialis ; ergo, etc. 

Istud vocabulum immateriale est frequens in usu Philo- 
sophi in proposito, sed videtur ambiguum. Potest enim 
ad propositum tripliciter intelligi ; vel immaterialis, quia 
incorporea, hoc modo, quia non per partem corpoream 
et organum, et tunc istud est idem cum propositione 
jam posita de non organica. Vel alio modo immaterialis, 
quia nullo modo extensa, et tunc plus dicit quam non 
organica ; etsi enim omnis organica sit extensa, quia 
recipitur in extenso, non tamen sola, quia si reciperetur 
in toto composito primo, cum illud sit extensum, adhuc 
operatio esset extensa. Tertio modo potest intelligi 
immaterialitas ejus in comparatione ad objectum, ut 
scilicet respiciat objectum sub rationibus immaterialibus, 
utpote in quantum abstrahitur ab hie et nunc et hujus- 
modi, quae dicuntur conditiones materiales. Si autem 
(proferetur vel) probaretur immaterialitas secundo modo, 
plus haberetur propositum quam ex probatione ejus 
primo modo. Sed non videtur sic posse probari, nisi ex 
conditionibus objecti, quod respicit ille actus, nisi forte 
ex reflectione, quia experimur nos reflecti super actum 
istius cognitionis ; et quantum non est super se reflexivum, 
et ideo ab objecto istius actus fit finaliter probatio antece- 

Sic : Habemus in nobis aliquam cognitionem objecti 
sub ilia ratione sub qua non potest esse ejus aliqua cogni- 
tio sensitiva ; ergo, etc. Antecedens probatur, quia 
experimur in nobis quia cognoscimus actu universale ; 


knowledge. No sense knowledge, however, can be im- 
material ; therefore, etc. 

This word “immaterial” is frequently used by the 
Philosopher in this connexion, but it appears to be 
ambiguous. There are three relevant ways in which it 
can be understood, (a) Either this knowledge is im- 
material because it is incorporeal in the sense that it is 
not an operation that involves a corporeal part or organ. 
In this sense, the present proposition is the same as that 
previously posited with regard to non-organic knowledge. 
(. b ) Another way in which this knowledge could be 
immaterial would be that it is not extended in any way. 
In this case much more is asserted than the fact that it is 
not organic. For although everything organic is extended 
inasmuch as it is received into something extended 
[viz. the organ], this is not the only reason. It would still 
be extended if it were received immediately by the com- 
posite as a whole, because the composite is itself extended, 
(c) Immateriality can be understood in a third sense, 
namely with reference to the object, inasmuch as this 
knowledge considers the object under immaterial aspects, 
as for instance, abstracting from the “here and now” and 
such like, which are said to be material conditions. If we 
would prove this knowledge to be immaterial in the second 
sense and not merely in the first our proposed conclusion 
would follow all the more. But it seems that the only way 
we could do this would be from the conditions which 
characterise the object of such an act (unless perhaps we 
could do so on the basis of reflection, since we experience 
ourselves reflecting on this act of knowledge, for what has 
quantity is not capable of reflecting upon itself.) At any 
rate the proof of the antecedent ultimately rests upon the 
object of this act. 

The proof is as follows. We possess some knowledge 
of an object under an aspect it could not have as an 
object of sense knowledge ; therefore, etc. — Proof of the 
antecedent : (i) We experience in ourselves that we 

( 2 , 322 ) 20 



et experimur quia cognoscimus ens, vel qualitatem 
[MS quantitatem] sub ratione aliqua comm'uniori quam 
sit ratio primi objecti sensibilis, etiam respectu supremae 
sensitivae. Experimur etiam quod cognoscimus rela- 
tiones consequentes naturas rerum, etiam non sensibilium. 
Experimur etiam quod distinguimus totum genus sensi- 
bilium ab aliquo quod non est illius generis. Experimur 
etiam quod cognoscimus relationes rationis, quae sunt 
secundae intentiones, scilicet relationem universalis, 
generis et speciei et compositionis, et aliarum intentionum 
logicalium. Experimur etiam quod cognoscimus actum 
ilium quo cognoscimus ista, et illud, secundum quod 
inest nobis iste actus, quod est per actum reflexum super 
actum rectum et susceptivum ejus. Experimur etiam 
quod assentimus complexionibus quibusdam sine possi- 
bilitate contradicendi vel errandi, utpote primis principiis. 
Experimur etiam quod cognoscimus ignotum ex noto per 
discursum, ita quod non possumus dissentire evidentiae 
discursus, nec conclusionis illatae ; quodcumque istorum 
cognoscere est impossibile cuicumque potentiae sensitivae, 
ergo, etc. — Si quis autem proterve neget istos actus inesse 
homini, nec se experiri istos actus in se, non est ulterius 
cum eo disputandum, sed dicendum est sibi quod est 
brutum ; sicut cum dicente, non video colorem ibi, non 
est disputandum, sed dicendum sibi, tu indiges sensu quia 
caecus es. Ita quod quodam sensu, id est, perceptione 
interiori, experimur istos actus in nobis ; et ideo si quis 
istos neget, dicendum est eum non esse hominem, quia 
non habet istam visionem quam alii experiuntur.- — 
Assumptum, scilicet quod nullus istorum actuum potest 
inesse secundum aliquam potentiam sensitivam, probatur, 
quia actu universale cognoscitur sub tanta indifferentia 


know the actual universal, (ii) We experience that we 
know being or quality under a more general notion than 
that characteristic of the primary object of even the 
highest sense faculty, (iii) We experience that we also 
know relations that follow from the nature of things, even 
when the latter are not capable of being perceived by the 
senses, (iv) We experience that we distinguish the whole 
class of sensible objects from what is not such, (v) We 
experience that we know conceptual relations, which are 
second intentions, such as that of the universal, the genus, 
the species, the judgment and other logical intentions, 
(vi) We also experience that we know the very act 
whereby we know these things and we experience that 
this act exists within us. This we do by an act of reflec- 
tion upon the direct act and its recipient, (vii) We 
experience that we assent to propositions such as the first 
principles without a possibility of error or contradiction, 
(viii) We also experience that we learn the unknown from 
the known by means of discursive reasoning, so that we 
are unable to refuse our assent to the evidence of the 
reasoning process or to the conclusion that is inferred. 
But the knowledge of any of these cannot be attributed 
to any sensitive faculty ; therefore, etc. — Should a con- 
tentious individual deny that such acts are present in 
man or that he experiences these acts in himself, a person 
ought not to argue with him any further, but he ought to 
be told that he is a brute animal. It is the same with one 
who says : “I do not see colour here”. We should not 
argue with such a one but simply tell him : “You need 
senses because you are blind”. And so by a certain 
“sense”, namely internal perception, we experience 
these acts within ourselves. Hence, if someone were to 
deny their existence we would have to say that he is not 
a man because he lacks this interior vision which others 
experience. — The assumption that a sense faculty is not 
the source of any of these acts [viz. (i) to (viii)] is proved 
as follows : The actual universal has such an indifference 



sub quanta ipsum sic cognitum est simul dicibile de 
omnibus singularibus in quibus salvatur ; sic non cognos- 
cit sensus. Sed de secundo est evidentius, quia nulla 
potentia potest cognoscere aliquid sub ratione universa- 
liori ratione sui proprii objecti ; sicut visus non cognoscit 
aliquid sub ratione indifferenti ad colorem et ad sonum ; 
ergo cognitio ilia est alicujus sub ratione communiori 
quocumque posito objecto, etiam supremi sensus non 
potest esse aliqua sensatio. Quartum probat idem, quia 
nulla sensatio potest esse distinctive primi objecti sensi- 
bilis, i.e. communissimi, ab eo quod non est tale, quia nec 
potest esse utriusque extremi. De relationibus conse- 
quentibus alia non sensibilia inter se vel insensibilia ad 
sensibilia, patet per idem quia sensus non potest in istos 
et multo magis patet de relationibus istis, quae dicuntur 
rationis, quia sensus non potest moveri ad cognoscendum 
aliquid quod non includitur in objecto sensibili ut sensi- 
bili ; habitudo rationis non includitur in aliquo ut 
existens est ; sensus autem existentis est ut existens est, 
et per hoc posset probari primum etiam de actu univer- 
sali, quia universali in actu repugnat esse existens ut 
existens est. Aliud de reflexione super actum et poten- 
tiam, probatur per hoc quod quantum non est reflexivum 
supra se. Alia duo de compositione et assensione com- 
positioni, et de discurrere et assentire evidentiae discursus 
probantur ex relatione rationis, quia ista non sunt sine 
relatione rationis. 

Consequentia primi enthymematis probatur sic. Si 
talis actus sit in nobis formaliter cum non sit substantia 


about it that what is known in this way can be predi- 
cated simultaneously of all the singulars of which it is 
characteristic ; no sense faculty, however, knows things 
in this way. The same is even more evident as regards 
the second, for no faculty can know something under an 
aspect more universal than that of its proper object, even 
as vision perceives nothing under some aspect common 
to colour and to sound. Consequently, a knowledge of 
something in even more general terms than that char- 
acteristic of the first object of even the highest sense 
cannot be a sensation. The same holds true of the 
fourth, for no sensation can distinguish between the 
most universal of all sensible objects and that which is 
not sensible, because it cannot perceive both extremes. 
This is also true of the relations which exist between 
things imperceptible to the senses or between such things 
and those which can be perceived by the senses, for the 
sense faculty has no ability to perceive such relationships. 
And this is all the more true of those relations which are 
purely conceptual, since the senses can be moved to per- 
ceive only what is included in a sensible object as such. 
But conceptual relations are not included in any existing 
thing as such, whereas the senses have to do with existing 
things as existing. The same argument could be applied 
to the actual universal, for it is absurd that the actual 
universal should exist as such. The other, regarding our 
ability to reflect upon the act and the faculty, is proved 
from the fact that anything that has quantity cannot 
reflect upon itself. As for the other two (viz. the act of 
judgment and the assent to the same or the act of reason- 
ing and the assent given to the evidence for the same), 
what was said of conceptual relations proves these acts 
do not proceed from a sense faculty, for neither of these 
two exist without a conceptual relation. 

[b. Proof of the consequent]. The consequence of the 
first enthymeme 9 is proved as follows : 

[First proof ] . If we formally possess such an act, since 



nostra, quia quandoque inest et quandoque non inest, 
ergo oportet dare illi aliquod receptivum proprium ; 
non autem aliquod extensum, sive sit pars organica sive 
totum compositum, quia tunc ilia operatio esset extensa ; 
nec posset esse talis qualis dicta est, circa objecta talia 
qualia dicta sunt ; ergo oportet quod insit secundum 
aliquid non extensum ; et quod illud sit formaliter in 
nobis, illud non potest esse nisi anima intellectiva, quia 
quaecumque alia forma est extensa. 

Vel aliter potest probari consequentia ista eundo ad 
conditionem objecti istius actus, quia quaelibet forma 
inferior intellectiva, si habet operationem, habet praecise 
respectu objecti sub rationibus oppositis istis rationibus 
dictis ; ergo si habemus operationem circa objectum sub 
istis rationibus, ilia non inerit nobis secundum aliquam 
formam aliam ab intellectiva ; ergo inest nobis secundum 
intellectivam ; ergo intellectiva formaliter inest nobis, 
aliter non essemus formaliter operantes secundum illam 

Ex secunda operatione Humana, scilicet voluntate, 
potest probari idem, quia homo est dominus actuum 
suorum, ita quod in potestate ejus est per voluntatem 
determinare se ad hoc vel ejus oppositum, sicut dictum est 
distinctione xxii, secundi vel xxiii,* q. iii, et hoc est notum 
non tantum ex fide sed etiam per rationem naturalem. 
Ista autem indeterminatio non potest esse in aliquo 
appetitu sensitivo seu organico vel extenso quia quilibet 
appetitus organicus vel materialis determinatur ad 
certum genus appetibilium sibi conveniens, ita quod illud 
apprehensum non potest non convenire nec appetitus 
nec appetere ; ergo voluntas, qua sic indeterminate 
volumus est appetitus non alicujus talis formae, scilicet 

Opus oxoniense, n, dist. xxv, q. unica (Vives ed.). 


it is not our substance as such — for it is not always 
present in us — it follows, therefore, that this act needs a 
proper subject. Now the latter cannot be something 
extended, whether it be a part of the organism or the 
whole composite, for then this operation itself would be 
extended and would lack the prescribed characteristics. 
Neither would it be concerned with such objects as have 
been described above. Hence, it is necessary that this 
act be in us in virtue of something unextended and that 
the latter be formally in us. Now this can be nothing 
else than the intellective soul, for every other form is 

[Second proof \. Another way to prove this consequence 
would be to consider the condition of the object of this 
act, for if any form inferior to the intellective form 
functions, it is always with reference to an object having 
characteristics the very opposite of those cited above . 10 
Therefore, if we have an operation which regards an 
object under the aforementioned aspects, this will not 
be present in us in virtue of any form other than the 
intellective. Hence, it is by reason of this form that it is 
present in us, and consequently the intellective form itself 
is formally in us, for otherwise we would not formally 
function in this way. 

[Third proof ’]. We can prove the same from the second 
operation characteristic of man, namely volition, for man 
is master of his acts to such an extent that it is within his 
power to determine himself at will to this or to its 
opposite, as has been said in bk. h, dist. xxii or xxiii, q. iii. * 
And this is something known by natural reason and not 
merely by faith. Such a lack of determination, however, 
cannot exist in any organic or extended appetite, because 
every organic or material appetite is determined to a 
certain class of suitable objects so that what is appre- 
hended cannot be unsuitable nor can the appetite fail 
to seek it. The will, therefore, by which we can will in 
such an indeterminate way, is not the appetite of a 



materials, et per consequens alicujus excedentis omnem 
talem formem hujusmodi ponimus intellectivam, et tunc 
si appetitus ille sit formaliter in nobis, quia et appetere, 
sequitur quod forma ilia sit forma nostra. 

[Propositio II. Anima intellectiva est immortalis ]. De 
secunda propositione principali, quae est, quod anima 
intellectiva est immortalis, proceditur sicut de prima. 
Primo adducendo auctoritates Philosophorum qui hoc 

Aristoteles n De anima * dicit quod intellectus separa- 
tur a caeteris, sicut perpetuum a corruptibili. Si dicatur 
quod separatur quantum ad operationem ; contra — 
ex hoc sequitur propositum, quia si potest separari 
secundum operationem et secundum esse secundum ipsum 
1 De anima.] 

Item, m De anima J ponitur differentia inter sensum 
et intellectum, quod excellens sensibile corrumpit 
sensum, et propter hoc post sensationem talis minus 
sentit minus sensibile ; non sic de intellects Imo 
postquam intellexerit summa intelligibilia, magis intelli- 
git inferiora ; ergo intellectus non debilitatur in ope- 
rando, et tunc ultra sequitur, quod sit incorruptibilis in 

Item, xii Melaphysicae, cap. i,** moventes causae velut 
prius existentes, quae autem ut ratio, id est, forma sub- 
stantalis supple cum causato ut toto ; quando enim 
sanatur homo, tunc et sanitas est. Si autem posterius 
aliquid manet, perscrutandum est ; in quibusdam enim 

* n, cap. ii (413 6 , 25). f 11, cap. ii (4136, 29-31). 

X hi, cap. iv (429“ 29-4296, 4). ** xii, cap. iii (1070®, 21 ff.). 


material form, and in consequence it belongs to some- 
thing which excels every such form. But this is just what 
we assume the intellective form to be. And therefore, if 
this appetite is formally in us inasmuch as its act is in us, 
it follows that this form is our form. 

[ Second Proposition : The intellective soul is immortal]. 

The method of dealing with the second proposition, viz. 
that the intellective soul is immortal, is the same as that 
used with the first. The testimony of those philosophers 
who held this is adduced first. 

[Arguments for immortality : 11 Arg. i], Aristotle, in De 
anima, bk. ii,* says that the “intellect differs from the rest 
as what is eternal differs from what is perishable”. And 
if someone objects that it is something different and apart 
only in so far as its operations are concerned, the pro- 
posed conclusion still follows, for according to Aristotle 
in De anima , bk. i,f if it can be set apart by reason of its 
operations it can also exist apart. 

[Arg. n] . F urthermore, in De anima, bk. iii, J he says that 
the senses differ from the intellect, because something 
that stimulates the sense excessively tends to impair it 
so that afterwards even an object that does not stimulate 
the sense so strongly is less capable of being perceived, 
whereas such is not the case with the intellect. Quite 
the contrary, once the highest intelligibles have been 
grasped what is less intelligible becomes even better 
known. The intellect consequently is not weakened in 
function, and from this it follows further, the intellect 
is imperishable in its being. 

[Arg. hi]. Also, in Metaphysics, bk. xh, c. i,** he says : 
“The causes that produce motion, for instance, exist 
previously whereas those which are the essence, that is, 
the substantial form, exist simultaneously ( Add ‘with the 
effect considered as a whole 5 ). For when a man is 
healthy, then health also exists. . . . But we must 
inquire whether anything remains afterwards. For in 
some cases there is nothing to prevent this, for instance 



nihil prohibet, ut si anima est talis, non omnis, sed 
intellectus, etc. Vult ergo dicere quod intellectus est 
forma manens post compositum, sed non ante. 

Item, xvm De animalibus* relinquitur solum intellectum 
de foris ad venire. Ergo non accipit esse per genera- 
tionem, sed a causa extrinseca ; et per consequens non 
potest accipere non esse per corruptionem, nec per 
aliquam causam inferiorem corruptivam, quia ejus esse 
non subest alicui tali causae, cum sit a causa superiori 

Item, ex dictis Philosophi formantur aliquae rationes ; 
est unum principium apud eum, quod naturale desi- 
derium non est frustra ; nunc autem in anima est 
desiderium naturale ad semper esse. 

Item, vii Metaphysicae , f vult quod materia est, qua res 
potest esse et non esse. Ergo illud quod non habet 
materiam secundum eum non habet potentiam non 
essendi ; intellectiva non habet materiam secundum 
eum, quia est forma simplex. 

Item, in Etkicorum j vult quod fortis debet se exponere 
morti pro republica et idem vult ex Ethicorum,** et loquitur 
secundum judicium rationis naturalis ; ergo secundum 
rationem naturalem potest cognosci immortalitas animae. 
Probatio istius consequentiae, quia nullus propter 
quodcumque bonum virtutis vel in se, vel in alio vel 
communitatis debet appetere vel potest omnino non 
esse suum, quia secundum Augustinum in De libero 
arbitrio,\\ Non esse non potest appeti. Nunc autem si 
anima non esset immortalis, moriens acciperet totaliter 
non esse. 

* De generalione animalium, 11, cap. iii (736 fl , 28). 
f vii, cap. xv (1039&, 29). 
j Ethica Nicomachea, in, cap. vii (1117 6 , 8). 

** ix, cap. viii (n69 a , 20). 

■ff in, cap. viii (Migne, P.L., xxxii, 1282). 


the soul may be of this sort — not all the soul, but the 
intellect”. Hence, what Aristotle wishes to say is that 
the intellect is the form which exists after the composite 
ceases to exist, even though this form does not exist prior 
to the composite. 

[Arg. iv]. Also, he says in his work De generatione 
animalium* : “It remains for the intellect alone to enter 
from the outside”. Hence, the intellect does not receive 
existence by way of generation but rather from an ex- 
trinsic cause ; consequently, it cannot cease to exist by 
perishing. Neither can any inferior cause corrupt the 
soul since its existence does not come under the power of 
any such cause, for it owes its existence directly to a 
higher cause. 

[Arg. v]. Also, some arguments can be constructed 
from the dicta of the Philosopher. One of his principles 
is that a natural desire is not in vain . 12 Now the soul 
has a natural desire to exist forever. 

[Arg. vi]. Also, in Metaphysics, bk. vn,f he has this to 
say : “Matter is that in virtue of which a thing can exist 
or not exist”. Therefore, according to him, whatever 
has no matter lacks the capacity to be non-existent. Now 
the intellective soul, according to him, is devoid of matter 
since it is a simple form. 

[Arg. vii]. Also, in Nicomachean Ethics, bk. m,J he says 
that a brave man must expose himself to death for the 
state. And this he appears to repeat in bk. ix of the 
same work.** Now he speaks according to the dictates 
of natural reason. Consequently, the immortality of the 
soul can be known by natural reason. Proof of this 
consequence : No-one is obliged or is even able to seek 
his complete non-existence for the sake of some virtuous 
good whether that good be something in himself or in 
another or a good of the community, for according to 
Augustine a person cannot desire non-existence. If If the 
soul were not immortal, however, the one who is dying 
would be accepting complete non-existence. 



Item, arguit unus Doctor quasi ex verbis Philosophi 
sic : Quod corrumpitur aut corrumpitur per contrarium, 
aut per defectum alicujus necessario requisiti ad esse ejus. 
Sed anima intellectiva non habet contrarium, nec esse 
corporis est simpliciter necessarium ad ejus esse, quia 
habet proprium esse per se, et idem in corpore et extra 
corpus ; nec est differentia nisi quod in corpore com- 
municat illud corpori [ MS corrumpitur] ; extra corpus 
non communicat. 

Item, simplex non potest separari a seipso ; anima est 
simplex ; ergo non potest separari a seipsa et per conse- 
quens nec a suo esse separari potest quia non per aliam 
formam a se habet esse. Secus est de composito, quod 
habet esse per formam, quae forma potest separari a 
materia, et ita esse compositi destrui. 

Sed oppositum videtur Philosophus sensisse, quia in 
fine, vn Metaphysicae* ex intentione vult quod omnes 
partes, quae possunt separatae manere a toto, sunt 
elementa, id est, partes materiales, sicut ipse ibi accipit 
elementa ; et praeter tales necesse est ponere in toto 
aliquam formam, quae totum est illud quod est, quae non 
possit manere separata a parte materiali, toto non 
manente. Ergo si concessit animam intellectivam esse 
formam hominis, ut patet ex probatione proposition^ 
praecedentis, non ponit earn manere separatam a materia, 
toto non manente. 

Item, principium videtur apud eum quod illud 
quod incipit esse, desinit esse. Unde i De caelo et 
mundo,\ contra Platonem videtur habere pro incom- 


[Arg. viii] . Also, one teacher 13 argues as it were from 
the words of the Philosopher as follows : What perishes, 
perishes by reason of its contrary or because it lacks some 
necessary prerequisite for its existence. The intellective 
soul, however, has no contrary. Neither is the existence 
of the body a necessary prerequisite for the soul’s exist- 
ence, since the soul possesses its own proper per se exist- 
ence. The latter is the same whether the soul is in the 
body or out of it. The only difference is that when 
the soul is in the body, it communicates its existence to 
the body, whereas when it is outside it does not do so. 

[Arg. ix]. Also, what is simple cannot be separated 
from itself. The soul is simple ; therefore, it cannot be 
separated from itself, nor can it, in consequence, be 
separated from its existence, for it does not have its 
existence in virtue of some form other than itself. It is 
otherwise with something composite which has existence 
in virtue of the form. This form can be separated from 
matter, thus destroying the existence of the composite. 

[Arguments against immortality : Arg. i]. The Philos- 
opher, however, seems to take the opposite view, for at 
the end of Metaphysics , bk. vii,* he expresses the opinion 
that the only parts which could be separated from the 
whole are the elements, i.e. the material parts, for in this 
sense he understands elements here. In addition to these 
elements it is necessary to assume the existence of some 
form in the whole which is the totality of that which 
exists. This form could not exist in separation from the 
material part once the whole no longer exists. Hence, if 
he grants that the intellective soul is the form of man, as 
is evident from the proof of the preceding proposition, 
he does not admit that it exists in separation from matter, 
once the whole no longer exists. 

[Arg. n] . Likewise, it seems to be one of his principles 
that what begins to exist ceases to exist. Hence, in his 
work De caelo et mundo,\ against Plato, he seems to con- 
sider it impossible that anything could have come into 



possibili, quod aliquid inceperit, et tamen sit perpetuum 
et incorruptibile ; et in Physicorum, cap. de infinito,* 
cujus est principium, ejus est finis. 

[Opino Scoti], Potest dici quod licet ad istam 
secundam propositionem probandam sint rationes pro- 
babiles, non tamen demonstrativae, imo nec necessariae. 

Et quod adducebatur pro ea secundum primam viam 
de auctoritatibus philosophorum, dupliciter potest solvi. 
Uno modo quod dubium est quid Philosophus circa hoc 
senserit. Varie enim loquitur in diversis locis, et habuit 
diversa principia, ex quorum aliquibus videtur sequi 
unum oppositum, ex aliis aliud. Unde probabile est, 
quod in ista conclusione semper fuerit dubius, et nunc 
magis videbatur accedere ad unam partem, nunc ad 
aliam, juxta quod tractabat materiam consonam uni 
parti magis quam alteri. 

Est et alia responsio realior quod non omnia dicta a 
philosophis assertive, erant eis probata per rationem 
necessariam naturalem ; sed frequenter non habebant 
nisi quasdam probabiles persuasiones, vel vulgarem 
opinionem philosophorum praecedentium. Unde dicit 
Philosophus 11 Cadi et mundi f in cap. de duabus quaest. 
difficilibus, tentandum est dicere quod videtur esse 
dignum, reputantes promptitudinem magis imputari 
verecundiae, quam audaciae, si quis propter philosophiam 
stare, et parvas sufficientias diligit, de quibus habemus 
maximas dubitationes. Unde parvae sufficientiae fre- 
quenter suffecerunt philosophis, ubi non poterant ad 
majorem pervenire, ne contradicerent principiis philoso- 
phiae. Et in eodem cap. de [aliis] astris dicunt Aegypti 

* in, cap. iv (203 6 , 9). 

| II, cap. xii (291*, 25-29 ; 292", 6 ff.). 


existence and still be eternal and imperishable. And in 
the Physics he says * : “Whatever has a beginning has an 

[Scotus’s Opinion ]. It can be stated that although 

there are probable reasons lor this second proposition, 
these are not demonstrative, nor for that matter are they 
even necessary reasons . 14 

[Reply to the arguments for immortality ] . The testimonies 
of the philosophers — the first way used to prove the 
proposition — can be solved in two ways. First of all, it 
is doubtful what the Philosopher really held on this 
point, for he speaks differently in different places and 
has different principles, from some of which one thing 
seems to follow whereas from others the very opposite 
can be inferred. Wherefore, it is probable that he was 
always doubtful about this conclusion and at one time 
seems to be drawn to one side and at other times to the 
other depending on whether the subject matter he was 
treating at the moment was more in accord with the one 
or with the other. 

Another answer, and one more in accord with facts, 
is that not all the statements by the philosophers were 
established by proofs both necessary and evident to 
natural reason. Frequently, what they gave was nothing 
more than rather persuasive probable arguments or what 
was commonly held by earlier philosophers. For this 
reason, the Philosopher in De caelo et mundo , bk. n,f in 
the chapter on the two difficult questions, says : “We 
must now attempt to state the probable solution, for we 
regard the zeal of one whose thirst after philosophy leads 
him to accept even slight indications where it is very 
difficult to see one’s way, as a proof rather of modesty 
than of over-confidence”. Hence, in those matters where 
they could find nothing better without contradicting the 
principles of philosophy, “slight indications” frequently 
had to suffice for the philosophers. As he says in the 
same chapter : “Accounts of other stars are given by the 



et Babylonii, a quibus multas credulitates habemus de 
unoquoque astrorum. Unde philosophi quandoque 
acquiescunt propter persuasiones probabiles, quandoque 
propter assertiones principiorum suorum praeter ratio- 
nem necessariam. Et ista responsio sufficeret ad omnes 
auctoritates, licet essent expressae [ MS nullae], quod non 
concludunt propositum. Tamen responderi potest per 

Ad primum, quod non intelligit istam separationem, 
nisi praecise in hoc quod intellectus non utitur corpore 
in operando, et propter hoc est incorruptibilis in ope- 
rando, loquendo de ilia corruptione, qua virtus organica 
corrumpitur propter corruptionem organi ; et ista sola 
corruptio competit potentiae organicae. Secundum 
Philosophum 1 De anima* si senex acciperet oculum 
juvenis, videret utique sicut juvenis ; ergo ipsa potentia 
visiva non est debilitata sive corrupta quantum ad 
operationem ; sed [ad] organum tantum ; nec tamen 
ex ista incorruptione intellectus, quia scil. non habet 
organum, per cujus corruptionem possit corrumpi in 
operando, sequitur quod sit simpliciter incorruptibilis 
in operando, quia tunc sequeretur quod in essendo esset 
incorruptibilis, sicut tunc argutum est ; sed tantum 
sequitur quod non est corruptibilis in operando, illo 
modo quo potentia organica ; tamen poneretur simpli- 
citer corruptibilis, juxta illud Philosophi m De anima.] 
Intellectus corrumpitur in nobis quodam interiori cor- 
rupto. Et hoc pro tanto, quia poneretur principium 
operandi toti composito operationem propriam ejus ; 


Egyptians and Babylonians . . . from whom many of 
our beliefs about particular stars are derived”. There- 
fore, the philosophers agreed to things sometimes because 
of probable persuasive reasons, at other times because 
they had asserted as principles, propositions which were 
not necessary truths. And this reply would suffice for all 
the testimonies cited above ; even if they clearly asserted 
the proposed conclusion, they still do not establish it. 
Nevertheless, these arguments can be answered in order 
as follows. 

[To 1]. To the first : Aristotle understands this 

separation to mean nothing more than that the intellect 
does not use the body in performing its operation, and 
for this reason it is incorruptible as to function. This is 
to be understood in the sense that it is unlike an organic 
power which perishes precisely because the organ decays. 
This type of decay pertains exclusively to an organic 
faculty. For according to the Philosopher in De anima,* 
bk. 1, if an old man were given the eye of a young man, 
he would indeed see as well as the youth. Hence, the 
faculty of vision grows weak or decays only from the 
standpoint of its organ and not in so far as its operation 
directly is concerned. From the fact that the intellect, 
however, is incapable of decay in the sense that it has no 
organ by which it could perish, it does not follow that the 
intellect is imperishable as to function in an unqualified 
sense, for then it would indeed follow that it is also 
imperishable in being as the argument maintains. What 
does follow is this. So far as its ability to operate alone 
is concerned, the intellect is incapable of dissolution in 
the same sense that an organic power is corruptible. 
Absolutely speaking, however, the intellect is assumed to 
be perishable according to the Philosopher’s statement in 
De anima, bk. m,f that the intellect perishes in us once the 
interior sense perishes. And this is just what one would 
have to maintain if he assumed the soul to be a prin- 
ciple which has an operation proper to the composite 

( 2 , 322 ) 21 



sed compositum est corruptibile, ergo et principium 
operativum ejus. Quod autem sit principium operandi 
toti, et quod operatio ejus sit operatio totius, videtur 
Aristoteles dicere 1 De anima* 

Ad aliud dico, quod excellens sensibile corrumpit 
sensum per accidens, quia corrumpit organum, quia 
solvit illam mediam proportionem, in qua consistit bona 
dispositio organi ; et per oppositum intellectus, quia non 
habet organum, non corrumpitur ab excellenti objecto ; 
sed ex hoc non sequitur quod sit incorruptibilis nisi 
probetur quod non dependeat in essendo a toto quod est 

Ad tertium de xn Metaphysicae dicitur quod Aristoteles 
posuit illud sub dubio, quia dicit forsan. Sed non dicit 
forsan ad istud quod intellectus manet posterius, id est, 
post totum ; sed dicit non omnis anima, sed intellectus ; 
et sequitur : Omne namque impossible forsan, ubi 

dubitabat an possibile sit omnem animam manere post 
compositum. Sed de intellectu non dubitat non depen- 
deat in essendo a toto quod est corruptibile. Si ergo 
expresse hoc asserat, potest dici quod tamen non fuit per 
rationem necessariam sibi demonstratum, sed per 
rationes probabiles persuasum. 

Ad aliud, valde dubium est, quid ipse senserit de 
inceptione animae intellectivae. Si enim non posuit 
Deum aliquid immediate de novo agere, sed tantummodo 
motu sempiterno movere coelum, et hoc ut agens 
remotum, a quo agente separato poneret ipse intellecti- 
vam de novo produci? Si enim dicas, quod ab aliqua 


i, cap. v, passim. 


as a whole. The composite, however, is perishable. 
Consequently, its operative principle is also perishable. 
That the soul is the operative principle of the whole com- 
posite and that its operation is also that of the whole is just 
what Aristotle seems to say in De anima, bk. i.* 

[To 11] . To the next, I say that an excessively stimu- 
lating object damages the senses only incidentally inas- 
much as it damages the organ by disrupting that balance 
which constitutes the quality of being properly disposed. 
On the other hand, since the intellect has no organ, it is 
not damaged by a more highly intelligible object. But 
from this it does not follow that the intellect is im- 
perishable unless it first be proved that it does not 
depend for existence on a composite being that can 

[To hi]. To the third argument based on Metaphysics, 
bk. xii, some reply that Aristotle assumes this as something 
doubtful since he uses the word “perhaps”. — However, 
he does not say “perhaps” when he speaks of the intellect 
persisting after the whole, but says : “Not all the soul, 
but the intellect”. Only afterward does he add : “For 
it is perhaps impossible that all [the parts of the soul . . .]”, 
where he doubts whether it is possible for the entire soul 
to outlive the composite. Nevertheless, he has no doubts 
that the intellect does not depend for its existence on the 
whole composite which is perishable. 

If Aristotle expressly asserts this, then it can be said 
that he was convinced of this because of probable reasons 
and not because it was anything demonstrated to him by 
necessary reasons. 

[To rv]. As for the other, it is very doubtful what 
Aristotle held in regard to the origin of the intellective 
soul. For if he assumed that God does not immediately 
produce anything new, but merely moves the heaven 
with an eternal movement and this only as a remote 
agent, then by what separate 15 agent did Aristotle 
assume the soul was produced from without ? If you 


I 5 I 

Intelligentia, duplex est inconveniens. Unum quia ipsa 
non potest creare substantiam ex prima distinctione hujus 
quarti.* Aliud, quia ilia non magis potest aliquid novum 
producere immediate, quam Deus secundum principia 
Philosophi de immutabilitate agentis, et ideo sempiterni- 
tate in agendo. Nec potest ipse, ut videtur, secundum 
principia sua ponere intellectivam esse terminum agentis 
naturalis quia ut videtur ex xii Metaphysicae ,j ponit 
earn incorruptibilem et nulla forma quae est terminus 
agentis naturalis, est simpliciter incorruptibilis. Potest 
dici quod ponit earn immediate accipere esse et novum 
esse a Deo quia quod acciperet esse satis sequitur ex 
principiis ejus cum non ponat earn perpetuo praecessisse 
sine corpore, nec prius fuisse in alio corpore ; nec est 
probabile secundum rationem a quo possit recipere tale 
esse, nullo praesupposito, nisi a Deo. 

Sed contra : ergo concederet creationem. Respondeo, 
non sequitur, quia non posuit aliam productionem com- 
positi, et animae intellectivae, sicut nec ignis et formae 
ignis ; sed illam animationem corporis organici ponit esse 
productionem per accidens ipsius animae. Nos autem 
ponimus duas productiones ; unam a non esse animae ad 
esse ejus, et ista est creatio ; aliam a non animatione 
corporis ad animationem ejus, et ilia est productio cor- 
poris animati, et per mutationem proprie dictam. Qui 

* Opus oxoniense, rv, dist. i, q. i, n. 28. 
f xii, cap. iii (1070°, 25-28). 


say it was by one of the Intelligences, then we encounter 
a double difficulty ; one, because an Intelligence cannot 
create a substance (as I prove in bk. iv, dist. i) * ; the 
other, because such a being cannot immediately produce 
anything new any more than God could, for according 
to the Philosopher’s principles regarding the immuta- 
bility of the agent it follows that the action of such a 
being is eternal. Neither do we see any way in which 
Aristotle could claim that the intellective soul is the effect 
of some natural agent 16 without violating his principles, 
because he seems to assume the soul to be imperishable in 
Metaphysics , bk. xn.f And no form that is the effect of a 
natural agent is imperishable in an unqualified sense. 

But it can be said that he assumed the soul received 
existence immediately from God and that this existence 
was something new. For it would follow readily enough 
from his principles that it would have received existence, 
since Aristotle assumed no eternal bodiless pre-existence ; 
neither did he hold that the soul existed previously in 
some other body ; nor does it seem possible according 
to reason that a soul which presupposes no material 
principle could have received its existence from anyone 
other than God. 

To the contrary : If this explanation were true, Aris- 
totle would have admitted creation. — I reply that this 
does not follow, for he did not assume a production of the 
intellective soul distinct from the production of the com- 
posite, just as he did not assume one production for fire 
and another for the fire form. What he posited was the 
animation of the organic body and this incidentally 
involved the production of its soul. Now we admit two 
types of production, one from the soul’s non-existence 
to existence and this we call creation, the other is the 
passage of the body from an inanimate to an animate 
state and this is the production of a living body by a 
change in the proper sense of the word. If anyone, there- 
fore, were to assume merely the second type of production 



igitur, poneret tantum secundam, nullam creationem 
poneret, et ita Aristoteles. 

Sed licet vites secundum eum creationem, quomodo 
tamen potest salvare agens immutabile aliquid novum 
producere ? Respondeo, nullo modo nisi propter novi- 
tatem passi receptivi ; quod enim effectus totaliter et 
praecise dependens a causa activa, esset novus, reduce- 
retur secundum Aristotelem in aliquam variationem 
ipsius causae efficientis ; sed quod effectus dependens ab 
agente et receptivo sit novus, potest reduci in novitatem 
ipsius passi, sine novitate agentis et ita diceretur hie quod 
Deus de necessitate naturali, transmutat corpus organi- 
cum ad animationem, quam cito corpus est susceptivum 
istius animationis et a causis naturalibus fit aliquando de 
novo istud susceptivum, et ideo tunc nova est mutatio 
ad animationem ab ipso Deo. 

Sed quare reducenda est ista novitas in Deum, sicut 
in causa agentem ? Dico quod, quia sicut est primum 
agens et ideo secundum Aristotelem est semper agens 
aliqua actione in passum semper eodem modo se habens, 
ita si aliquod passum potest esse novum et susceptivum 
alicujus formae, quae non potest subesse causalitati 
alicujus causae secundae, Deus est immediata causa illius 
et tamen de novo, quia omni potentiae passivae in ente 
oportet ponere aliam activam correspondentem, et ideo 
si passivae novae non correspondet alia activa creata, 
correspondebit sibi immediate divina. 

Ad aliud de desiderio naturali respondebitur, respon- 
dendo ad rationes principales, quia prima ratio princi- 
palis et secunda et tertia procedunt ex hoc. 

Ad aliud de vii Metaphysicae* de materia, vera est ilia 

vii, cap. xv (1039b 29). 


he would not thereby postulate a creation. And this 
was the case with Aristotle. 

But even if you avoid asserting a creation according to 
Aristotle, how is it possible to save the idea that something 
new is produced by an agent that is immutable ? — I 
reply that the only way is to explain what is new in terms 
of something in the patient or recipient of the action. 
According to Aristotle, if a new effect depended solely 
upon the active cause, some variation in the efficient 
cause itself would be required. But a new effect that 
depends upon both the recipient and the agent can be 
accounted for in terms of something new in the recipient 
alone and not in the agent. And thus we could say that 
in the present instance God by a natural necessity changed 
an organic body into a living substance just as soon as the 
body was capable of receiving life. And natural causes 
will determine just when the latter becomes ready to 
receive it, and hence at this moment God produces this 
new change so that it comes to life. 

But why must this new entity be attributed to God as to 
its [immediate] efficient cause ? — I reply that the reason 
is this. Just as God, the first agent, is continually operat- 
ing by some action on a patient which remains con- 
stantly in the same condition according to Aristotle, so 
likewise if something is capable of receiving some new 
form which cannot be caused by any secondary cause, 
God must be its immediate cause ; and yet for all that 
something new comes into existence. For it is necessary 
to postulate some active potency that corresponds to 
every passive potency. Now if there is no such created 
cause corresponding to the new passive potency, then its 
immediate corresponding cause will be divine. 

[To v]. The other argument about the natural desire 
will be answered in the reply to the initial arguments , 17 
for the first three proceed from this notion. 

[To vi]. As for the argument about matter in Meta- 
physics, bk. vii,* this description of matter holds not merely 



descriptio materiae non tantum intelligendo quod 
materia est, qua res cujus ipsa est pars potest esse et non 
esse ; sed res, sive cujus ipsa est pars, sive quae recipitur 
in ipsa ; alioquin forma ignis non posset non esse, quia 
materia non est pars formae ignis. 

Ad aliud de forti fit magna altercatio, an secundum 
rectam rationem debet sic se exponere. Potest tamen dici 
sicut Philosophus respondet in DC * quod bonum maxi- 
mum tribuit sibi in exercendo ilium magnum actum 
virtutis, et hoc bono privaret se, imo vitiose viveret, si illo 
actu praetermisso tunc, salvaret suum esse per quantum- 
cumque ; melius est autem simpliciter maximum bonum 
et momentaneum quam remissum bonum virtitis vel vita 
vitiosa per magnum tempus. Unde ex illo probatur 
evidenter, quod bonum commune secundum rectam 
rationem est magis diligendum quam bonum proprium, 
quia totum bonum proprium debet homo exponere 
destructioni simpliciter, etiamsi nesciat animam im- 
mortalem, propter boni communis salvationem, et illud 
magis diligitur simpliciter, propter cujus salutem esse 
alterius contemnitur. 

Ad illas rationes Doctorum. Si intelligit animam 
habere per se esse idem in toto, et extra totum, prout per 
se esse distinguitur contra in esse accidentis ; hoc modo 
forma ignis, si esset sine materia, haberet per se esse et 
tunc posset concedi quod forma ignis esset incorruptibilis. 
Si autem intelligat de esse per se, quod convenit composito 
in genere substantiae, sic falsum est quod anima sine 
corpore habet per se esse, quia tunc esse ejus non esset 
alteri communicabile, quia in divinis etiam per se esse 
isto modo acceptum est incommunicabile. Unde omni 

* Ethica Nicomachea , ix, cap. viii (1169®, 15-17). 


in the sense that a thing which has matter as one of its 
parts is able to exist and not exist, but also that a thing 
composed of matter or received into matter is able to 
exist and not exist. Otherwise the form of fire could not 
be non-existent, for matter is not a part of the fire form. 

[To vii]. To the other about the brave man, there is 
a great dispute whether according to right reason one 
must expose himself to death in this way. Be that as it 
may, one could solve this objection the way the Philos- 
opher does.* One could say that by performing such a 
great act of virtue, this individual has obtained the 
highest good, whereas if he had saved his life by omitting 
this act, he would have deprived himself of this good and 
what is more, his life would be morally evil. Absolutely 
speaking it is better to have this greatest good even 
momentarily than to be without it or to have a long, but 
a morally evil, life. Wherefore, evident proof is had from 
this that according to right reason the common good is 
to be preferred to one’s individual good, because even if 
a man is unaware that his soul is immortal, he is still 
bound to expose his entire personal good to destruction 
in order to save the common good. And that must be 
loved all the more, absolutely speaking, to save which the 
existence of another is regarded as of little account. 

[To vm] . As for the arguments of certain teachers, if the 
meaning is that the soul has the same per se existence 18 
in the composite as it has outside the composite, where 
per se existence is understood as contrasted with the 
existence characteristic of an accident, then the fire form, 
if it were to exist apart from matter, would also have per se 
existence, and then we could admit that the fire form is 
imperishable. But if by per se existence is meant that 
characteristic of the composite in the line of substance, 
then it is false to say that the soul has per se existence 
outside the body. For were such the case, it could not 
communicate its being to another, for even in what is 
divine, per se being in this sense is incommunicable. 



modo deficit quod anima habet per se esse sine cor- 
pore, quia in secundo intellectu antecedens est falsum 
et in primo consequentia non valet, nisi addas ibi, quod 
naturaliter sine miraculo habet per se esse primo modo ; 
sed haec propositio credita est, et non per rationem 
naturalem nota. 

Ad aliud, non omnis corruptio est per separationem 
alterius ab altero ; accipiendo enim esse angeli, si illud 
ponatur secundum aliquos aliud ab essentia, illud non 
est separabile a seipso, et tamen est destructibile per 
successionem oppositi ad ipsum esse. 

[ Propositio III. Anima non remanebit perpetuo extra suum 
totum]. De tertia propositione dicitur earn posse probari 
ex hoc, quod pars extra totum est imperfecta ; forma 
autem tam nobilis non remanebit perpetuo imperfecta ; 
ergo nec separata a toto. 

Item, nullum violentum est perpetuum secundum 
Aristotelem i De caelo et mundo* Separatio autem 
animae a corpore est violenta, quia contra inclinationem 
naturalem animae ; secundum Philosophum, quia incli- 
natur naturaliter ad perfeciendum corpus. 

[Opinio Scoti]. De ista propositione videtur quod 
Philosophus, si posuisset animam immortalem, magis 
posuisset earn perpetuo manere sine corpore quam in 
corpore, quia omne compositum ex contrariis est 

Nec rationes istae probant. Prima non, nam ilia major, 
“Pars extra totum est imperfecta,” non est vera nisi de 

ii, cap. iii (286°, 18). 


Hence, there is no way in which the soul has per se 
existence without the body, for if we take the term in the 
second sense the antecedent of the argument is false, 
whereas if we take it in the first sense, the consequence is 
invalid, unless you add that it has this existence naturally 
and without a miracle. But this latter is something we 
believe, but it is not known by natural reason. 

[To ix]. To the other, not all destruction is the result 
of separating one thing from another. Take the being 
of an angel, and let it be assumed as some do that its 
existence is distinct from its essence . 19 Such a being is not 
separable from itself and nevertheless it can be destroyed 
if its existence is succeeded by the opposite of existence. 

[ Third Proposition : The human soul will not remain 

outside the body forever. Arg. i]. They say that the third 
proposition can be proved from this that a part which 
exists outside the whole is imperfect . 20 This form [viz. 
the soul], however, is so noble that it will not remain 
forever imperfect ; therefore it will not exist apart from 
the composite forever. 

[Arg. 11]. Likewise, according to Aristotle in his work 
De caelo et mundo* nothing unnatural is eternal. But the 
separation of the soul from the body is unnatural, because 
it is contrary to the natural inclination of the soul. 
For according to the Philosopher the soul has a natural 
inclination to perfect the body. 

[Scotus’s Opinion ]. So far as this proposition is con- 
cerned, it seems that if the Philosopher had assumed the 
soul to be immortal, he would have held that it con- 
tinued to exist outside the body rather than in the body, 
for everything composed can be destroyed by its con- 

[Reply to the arguments]. Neither do the reasons 
given above prove the proposition. 

[To i]. The first does not because this major : “The 
part without the whole is imperfect”, is true only of that 
part which receives some perfection when it is in the 



parte quae recipit aliquam perfectionem in toto ; anima 
autem non recipit perfectionem sed communicat ; et sic 
potest formari ratio ad oppositum, quia non repugnat 
alicui aeque perfecto in se manere, licet alteri non com- 
municet suam perfectionem ; hoc apparet de causa 
efficiente, cui non repugnat quantumcumque manere 
sine suo effectu ; sed anima manet aeque perfecta in esse 
suo proprio, sive conjuncta sive separata ; in hoc tamen 
habens differentiam, quod separata non communicat 
esse suum alteri. 

Per hoc ad aliud, quia inclinatio naturalis est duplex : 
una ad actum primum et est imperfecti ad perfectionem, 
et concomitatur potentiam essentialem ad actum secun- 
dum. Et est alia inclinatio ad actum secundum et est 
perfecti ad perfectionem communicandum et concomi- 
tatur potentiam accidentalem. De prima verum est, 
quod oppositum ejus est violentum, et non perpetuum, 
quia ponit imperfectionem perpetuam, quam Philosophus 
habuit pro inconvenienti, quia posuit in universo causas 
ablativas aliquando cujuslibet imperfectionis. Sed 
secunda inclinatio, etsi perpetuo suspendatur, nullum 
violentum proprie dicitur, quia nec imperfectio ; nunc 
autem inclinatio animae ad corpus tantum est secundo 
modo. Vel potest dici secundum Avicennam, quod 
appetitus animae satiatus est per hoc quod semel perfecit 
corpus, quia ilia conjunctio est ad hoc, ut anima mediante 
corpore, acquirat suas perfectiones per sensus, quas non 
posset acquirere sine sensibus, et per consequens nec sine 


composite. Now the soul does not receive perfection but 
communicates perfection. Consequently, one could twist 
this argument in favour of the opposite view. For there 
is nothing absurd about a thing existing apart, even 
though it does not communicate its perfection to another, 
so long as it is equally perfect existing in this way. This 
is clear from the [similar] case of an efficient cause. For 
it is not repugnant that such a cause should exist without 
causing an effect. Now the soul, so far as its own being is 
concerned, is equally perfect whether it is separated from 
or joined to a body. There is, of course, this difference. 
As separated, the soul does not communicate its being to 

[To 11] . This also answers the other argument, since 
there are two kinds of natural inclinations One regards 
the primary act or actualisation, and this is the natural 
inclination of the imperfect for its perfection and is 
something that accompanies an essential potency in 
relation to its second act. But there is another inclination 
towards a second act where the latter is a perfection to be 
communicated and this is the natural inclination that 
accompanies an accidental potency. Of the first, it is 
true that the opposite of the natural inclination is some- 
thing unnatural and not eternal, because it would imply 
eternal imperfection, which the Philosopher regards as 
something improper inasmuch as he has postulated that 
causes exist in the universe which will in time do away 
with any imperfection. The second inclination, however, 
even though it would be forever suspended, implies 
nothing unnatural in the proper sense of the term since 
no imperfection is involved. Now the inclination that the 
soul has for the body is of the second type. Or it can be 
said with Avicenna that once the soul has perfected the 
body, this desire of the soul has been sated, since the 
purpose of this union is that the soul through the medium 
of the body may acquire those of its perfections which it 
could not acquire without the senses or without a body. 


x 5 6 

corpore ; semel autem conjuncta, acquisivit quantum 
ilia simpliciter appetit acquirere illo modo. 

Dico ergo quod istarum trium propositionum ex quibus 
formatur ratio ad resurrectionem quodammodo a priori 
quia sumptae sunt a forma hominis resuscitandi, prima 
est naturaliter nota et error ei oppositus qui proprius 
est et solius Averrois, pessimus est, non tantum contra 
veritatem theologiae, sed etiam contra veritatem philo- 
sophiae ; destruit enim scientiam quia omnes actus 
intelligendi, ut distinctos ab actibus sentiendi, et omnes 
actus electionis, ut distinctos ab actibus appetitus sen- 
sitivi ; et ita omnes virtutes quae non generantur sine 
electionibus factis secundum rectam rationem et per 
consequens tabs errans esset a communitate hominum, 
ratione utentium exterminandus. 

Sed aliae duae non sunt sufficienter notae ratione 
naturali, licet ad eas sint quaedam persuasiones proba- 
biles. Ad secundam quidem plures et probabiliores ; 
unde et illam videtur magis expresse sensisse Philosophus. 
Ad tertiam autem pauciores, et per consequens conclusio 
sequens ex istis non est sufficienter per istam viam nota 
ratione naturali. 

[ Pars Secunda : Rationes a posteriori \ 

Secunda via ad earn est a posterioribus, quarum 
aliquae probabiles tactae sunt in rationibus principali- 
bus, utpote de beatitudine hominis. Ad hoc etiam 
additur de justitia Dei retribuentis ; nunc autem in 


But if at any time the soul was joined to the body, then 
it has acquired the perfections that it simply desired to 
acquire in this way. 

[ Evaluation of the a priori proof ] . Of the three proposi- 
tions used to construct a kind of a priori argument 
in the sense that the proof is based on the nature of the 
form of man that is to be restored, I say that the first is 
known by natural reason and that the contrary error, 
which is proper to Averroes only, is of the very worst 
kind. Not only is it opposed to theological truth but 
to philosophical truth as well. For it destroys knowledge 
itself inasmuch as it denies any act of knowledge distinct 
from sensation or any act of choice distinct from sense 
appetite and hence does away with all those virtues 
which require an act of choice in accord with right reason. 
One who errs in this way, consequently, should be 
banished from the company of men who use natural 

The other two propositions, however, are not known 
adequately from natural reason even though there are 
a number of probable persuasive arguments in their 
favour . 21 The reasons for the second, indeed are more 
numerous as well as more highly probable. For this 
reason, the Philosopher appears to have held this doctrine 
more expressly . 22 For the third, however, the reasons 
are fewer. The conclusion, then, which follows from 
these three propositions is not sufficiently known a priori 
by natural reason. 

[ Pari II. The A Posteriori Proofs ] 

The second way to prove the resurrection is by a 
posteriori arguments. Some probable arguments of this 
kind were mentioned in the initial arguments, for 
instance, those concerning the happiness of man. To the 
latter this argument based on the justice of a rewarding 
God is added. In the present life the virtuous suffer 


r 57 

vita ista virtuosi majores patiuntur poenas, quam vitiosi. 
Et istud argumentum videtur Apostolus tangere ad 
I Cor. xv * : Si in hac vita tantum sperantes sumus in 

Christo, miserabiliores sumus omnibus hominibus, etc. 

Sed istae rationes a posteriori minus concludunt, quam 
ilia a priori accepta a propria forma hominis ; non enim 
apparet per rationem naturalem, quod unus est rector 
omnium hominum secundum leges justitiae retributivae 
et punitivae. Et esto quod sic diceretur quod unicuique 
in bono actu suo sit retributio sufficiens, sicut dicit Augus- 
tinus f : Jussisti, Domine et ita est, ut sit sibi poena 

omnis peccator, ita quod ipsum peccatum est prima 
poena peccati. Unde patet quod Sancti arguentes a 
posteriori ad propositum, non intendunt facere, nisi 
quasdam persuasiones probabiles, sicut Gregorius lib. 
xiv, $ positis ad hoc quibusdam persuasionibus dicit : 
Qui propter istas rationes noluerit credere, propter 
fidem credat. Consimiliter doctrina Pauli Act. xvii et 
xxvi ** et I ad Cor. xv f f per exemplum de grano cadente, 
et per resurrectionem Christi : Si Christus resurrexit et 
mortui resurgent, et per retributionem justam. Hujus- 
modi non sunt, nisi persuasiones probabiles, vel tantum 
ex praemissis creditis. Patet discurrendo per singula. 

[ Pars Tertia : Solutio Quaestionis\ 

Breviter ergo potest teneri quod nec a priori puta 
nec per rationem principii intrinseci in homine, nec a 

* i Cor. xv, 19. 

t Confessiones, 1, cap. xii (Migne, P.L., xxxii, 670). 
t Moralia in Job, xiv, cap. xl (Migne, P.L., lxxv, 1077). 

** Acts, xvii. 31 ; xxvi. 23. tt 1 Cor. xv. 


more punishments than those who are wicked. It is this 
line of argument that the Apostle seems to have in mind 
in the first letter to the Corinthians * : “If with this life 
only in view we have had hope in Christ, we are of all 
men the most to be pitied, etc”. 

[. Evaluation of the a posteriori arguments\. These a 
posteriori arguments, however, are even less conclusive 
than the a priori proof based on the proper form of man, 
since it is not clear from natural reason that there is one 
ruler who governs all men according to the laws of re- 
tributive and punitive justice . 23 It could also be said 
that the good act is itself sufficient reward for anyone, 
as Augustine says in the Confessions , bk. i f : “For it is even 
as Thou hast appointed, that every inordinate desire 
should bring its own punishment”, so that sin itself is the 
first punishment of sin. 

It is clear then that when the saints argued a posteriori 
for the proposed conclusion, they did not intend to give 
anything more than probable persuasive proofs. Gregory, 
for instance, having put down certain such proofs says { : 
“Whoever does not wish to believe because of these 
reasons, let him believe because of faith”. The same is 
true of Paul’s teachings in the Acts** and in the first 
epistle to the Corinthians f f where he uses the example of 
the grain that falls into the earth, or where he argues 
from the resurrection of Christ that if Christ be risen, the 
dead will rise again, or where he appeals to the notion 
of a just reward. Such arguments are nothing else than 
probable persuasive proofs, or they are reasons derived 
from premises that are matters of belief, as is evident 
if we examine them individually. 

[Part III. Solution to the Question ] 

To put it briefly, then, we can maintain that natural 
reason cannot prove that the resurrection is necessary, 
neither by way of a priori reasons such as those based on 

( 2 , 322 ) 22 



posteriori, puta per rationem alicujus operationis vel 
perfectionis congruentis homini, potest probari necessario 
resurrectio, innitendo rationi naturali ; ergo hoc tanquam 
omnino certum, non tenetur nisi per fidem. Imo nec 
secunda propositio in prima via, sicut dicit Augustinus 
xni De Trinitate, cap. ix,* tenetur per rationem sed 
tantum per Evangelium,f dicente Christo : Nolite 

timere eos qui occidunt corpus, animam autem non 
possunt occidere... 

[Ad Argumenta Principalia] 

Ad primum argumentum, aut arguitur praecise de 
desiderio naturali proprie dicto, et ille non est aliquis 
actus elicitus, sed sola inclinatio naturae ad aliquid, et 
tunc planum est, quod non potest probari desiderium 
naturale ad aliquid, nisi primo probetur possibilitas in 
natura ad illud, et per consequens e converso arguendo 
est petitio principii ; aut arguitur de desiderio naturali 
minus proprie dicto, quod scilicet est actus elicitus, sed 
concorditer inclinationi naturali, et tunc iterum non 
potest probari quod aliquod desiderium elicitum sit 
naturale isto modo, nisi prius probetur quod ad illud 
sit desiderium naturale primo modo. 

Si autem arguas : quod illud naturaliter desideratur, 
quod apprehensum statim actu elicito desideratur, quia 
ista pronitas non videtur esse nisi ex inclinatione naturali. 
Hie uno modo negaretur prima, quia vitiosus statim 
inclinatur secundum habitum suum ad desiderandum 
illud quod sibi offertur ; sed quia natura non statim est 
ex se vitiosa, nec in omnibus, et quilibet statim appetit 

* xiii, cap. ix (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1023 ). 

t Mt. x. 28. 


the notion of the intrinsic principle in man, nor by a 
posteriori arguments, for instance, by reason of some 
operation or perfection fitting to man. Hence we hold 
the resurrection to be certain on the basis of faith alone. 
Furthermore, as Augustine says in De Trinitate, bk. xih, 
c. ix,* the second proposition used in the first [or a priori] 
proof [viz. of the immortality of the human soul] is not 
held because reason dictates this, but solely because of 
the Gospel f where Christ tells us : “Do not be afraid of 
those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”. 

[Reply to the Arguments at the Beginning] 

To the first argument 24 : If the argument is based on 

the notion of natural desire taken in an exact and proper 
sense, and a natural desire in this sense is not an elicited 
act but merely an inclination of nature towards some- 
thing, then it is clear that the existence of such a natural 
desire for anything can be proved only if we prove first 
that the nature in question is able to have such a thing. 
To argue the other way round, therefore, is begging the 
question. Or if natural desire is taken in a less proper 
sense, viz. as an act elicited in conformity with the natural 
inclination, we are still unable to prove that any elicited 
desire is natural in this sense without first proving the 
existence of a natural desire in the proper sense of the 

But suppose that someone were to argue that whatever 
is immediately desired, once it is known, is something 
that is desired naturally, since such proneness seems to 
arise only from some natural inclination. One answer 
to this objection would be to deny the first statement, 
since a person with bad habits is inclined to desire 
immediately whatever is in accord with these habits just 
as soon as such a thing presents itself. However, if 
nothing else intervenes, nature of itself is not vicious ; 
neither is it vicious in everyone. Consequently, if everyone 



illud apprehensum, sequitur quod illud desiderium non 
est vitiosum ; ergo ista responsio non est generalis. 
Ideo potest did quod oporteret ostendere illam appre- 
hensionem esse secundum rectam rationem non erroneam; 
alioquin si ad apprehensionem erroneam statim omnes 
appetant actu elicito, non sequitur illud desiderium 
esse consonum inclinationi naturae ; imo magis opposi- 
tum. Non est autem manifestum per rationem natura- 
lem, quod ratio ostendens homini semper esse tanquam 
appetibile, sit ratio non erronea, quia prius oporteret 
ostendere quod istud posset competere homini. 

Breviter ergo omne medium ex desiderio naturali 
videtur esse inefficax, quia ad efficaciam ejus oporteret 
ostendere vel potentiam naturalem in natura ad istud, 
vel quod apprehensio, quam statim sequitur istud 
desiderium, si sit actus elicitus, sit apprehensio recta et 
non erronea ; et horum primum est idem cum conclu- 
sione quae concluditur ex desiderio naturali. Secundum 
autem difficilius vel minus notum ista conclusione. Et 
ad probationem hujus quod desiderium hominis naturale 
est ad immortalitatem, quia naturaliter fugit mortem, 
posset dici quod ista probatio concluderet aeque de 
quocumque bruto. Et si addatur illud Philosophi n De 
generations * : Melius est in omnibus semper esse 

quam non esse, istud est ad oppositum, turn quia aeque 
concluderet in bruto sicut in homine ; turn quia subdit : 
Hoc autem in omnibus impossibile existere continue 
propter longe a principio distare : ideo reliquo modo com- 
plevit Deus naturam continuam facere generationem, 

" De generations et corruptions , n, cap. x (226 s , 25 ff.). 


immediately desires such a thing as soon as he knows of 
it, it would follow that the desire in this case is not vicious. 
The first answer to this objection, then, is not adequate. 
Therefore it could be answered like this. We must show 
that such knowledge is not erroneous but is in accord with 
right reason. Otherwise, it does not follow that just 
because everyone, on the basis of an erroneous concep- 
tion, were immediately to elicit on act of desire, this 
desire is in accord with an inclination of nature. Indeed, 
it is rather the opposite that follows. Now it is not clear 
by natural reason that the argument establishing eternal 
existence as something desirable is not erroneous, since 
man must first be shown to be capable of such a thing. 

To put it briefly, then, every argument based on 
natural desire seems to be inconclusive, for to construct 
an efficacious argument, it would be necessary to show 
either that nature possesses a natural potency for eternal 
life, or that the knowledge which immediately gives rise 
to this desire, where the latter is an elicited act, is not 
erroneous but in accord with right reason. Now the 
first of these alternatives is the same as the conclusion to 
be established . 25 The second is more difficult to prove 
and is even less evident than the conclusion. 

As for the proof that man has a natural desire for 
immortality because he naturally shuns death, it can be 
said that this proof applies to the brute animal as well as 
to man. And should some one bring up the statement of 
the Philosopher in De generatione et corruptione, bk. ii * that 
it is better for everything to exist forever than not to 
exist forever, this is really an argument for the opposite 
view ; first of all, because it holds equally well for both 
brute and man, and secondly, because Aristotle himself 
adds : “Since it is impossible, however, for all things to 
exist forever because of their great distance from their 
source, therefore God adopted the remaining alternative 
and completes the perfection of nature by making 
generation continuous”. It is just as if Aristotle wished to 


quasi dicat, cum desiderium naturale sit ad semper 
esse, in quibus est hoc impossibile in seipso, est illud 
sicut possibile est, scilicet in continuatione speciei 
in diversis individuis ; et ita concederet de homine 
sicut de alio generabile quod habet naturale desiderium 
ad semper esse, non in unico individuo, sed in tali 

Sed semper videtur stare vis quod fugiens unum 
oppositum, non fugit illud nisi propter amorem alterius. 
Concedi potest quod ex hoc sequitur quod cum fugiat 
mortem pro nunc, amat vitam pro nunc, et sic de quolibet 
nunc signato. Sed non sequitur, ergo pro infinito. 

Ad illud Apostoli : respondeo nolumus nos inspirati 
sive certificati per fidem, et utique nolumus naturaliter 
sic, quod istud nolle est secundum inclinationem natura- 
lem, sed non est notum ratione naturali quod istud nolle 
est secundum inclinationem naturalem. 

Ad secundum, concedo quod verum est beatitudinem 
non solum in universali, sed etiam in speciali appeti 
naturaliter ab homine, sicut inferius patebit dist. xlix.* 
Sed non est notum naturali ratione quod ipsa in parti- 
culari, quae scilicet consistit in illo in quo nos credimus 
earn consistere, appetatur naturaliter ab homine autem ; 
enim oporteret esse notum per rationem naturalem, quod 
esset ille actus nobis conveniens tanquam finis. Cum 
ergo probas per Philosophum quod beatitudo non 
tantum in generali ex i Ethicorum, j sed etiam in speciali 
ex x | appetitur naturaliter, respondeo : ilia ratio 

beatitudinis quam Philosophus reputat specialem, quod 
scilicet consistat in speculatione altissimarum causarum 
perfectissima, est valde universalis ; in speciali autem 

* Opus oxoniense, iv, dist. xlix, q. ix, nn. 2-3 (Vives, vol. xxi, 318). 

f Ethica Nicomachea , i, cap. vii (1097 6 , iff.). 

X x, cap. vii-viii ( 1 1 7 a , i2ff.). 


say that since there is a natural desire to exist forever, 
in those beings incapable of such existence there is a 
desire for such continued existence as is possible, viz. 
through the continuity of the species in diverse individuals. 
And so one could grant that just like the other beings 
that can be generated, man too has a natural desire to 
exist forever — not indeed in a single individual, but in a 
continual succession of individuals. 

As for the principle that one flees from one thing only 
because he loves its opposite, however, it appears that 
this is always valid. We can admit that it follows from 
this principle that if one shuns death now, he loves life 
now, and the same can be said at any given moment. 
But from this it does not follow that he loves to live 

To that argument from the Apostle, I reply that we 
who do not wish [to be unclothed or who are averse to 
dying] are we who are made certain or inspired by faith. 
We are indeed naturally averse to dying inasmuch as 
such an aversion is in accord with an inclination of 
nature. But it is not known to natural reason that this 
aversion is in accord with an inclination of nature. 

To the second argument : I concede that it is true man 
naturally seeks happiness not only in general but also 
in particular, as will be made clear in distinction xlix.* 
But it is not known by natural reason that man naturally 
desires that particular beatitude which consists in what 
we believe it to consist , 26 for it would be necessary to 
know by natural reason that such an act pertains to us 
as an end. Consequently, when you prove by the 
Philosopher that not only is beatitude in general desired 
naturally (from Nicomachean Ethics, bk. i) f but also beati- 
tude in particular (from bk. x),| I reply that the beatitude 
which the Philosopher considered particular, namely the 
beatitude which consisted in the most perfect speculation 
about the highest causes, is in fact a knowledge through 
universals . 27 By descending to particulars, then, Aristotle 


descendendo, ipse non videtur processisse ultra speculatio- 
tionem perfectissimam in vita ista. Unde inquisita ista 
beatitudine hominis subdit : Oportet et corpus sanum 
esse, et cibum, et famulatum esse, non tamen aesti- 
mandum multum magnis indigere, felicem. Ergo 
felicitas ilia specialis quam nos ponimus speculationem 
homini possibilem longe perfectior est quacumque possi- 
bili in vita ista, ilia non est naturaliter nota esse finis 
noster nec naturaliter notum est earn naturaliter appeti 
a nobis tanquam finem. 

Gum probas per rationem Augustini beatitudinem non 
posse esse nisi sempiternam, dabitur istud ab illo qui 
tenet beatitudinem humanam posse haberi in vita ista, 
quod volens amittit earn, quia debet secundum rectam 
rationem velle conditionem naturae suae. Recta autem 
l’atio ostendit isti non habenti fidem, ut videtur sibi, 
quod conditio naturae suae est mortalitas tam animae 
quam corporis, et ideo debet velle sicut et vitam amit- 
tere, ita vitam beatam. Et cum dicis, non est vita beata 
quae non erat amata ab habente, verum est, si non 
esset amata pro tunc quando est possibilis, et con- 
veniens illi amanti, sed sic esse convenientem pro semper 
non est notum per rationem naturalem. 

Ad aliud conceditur quod notum est homini ipsum 
posse consequi finem suum in aliquo individuo, et per 
consequens, beatitudinem in illo gradu in quo notum 
est beatitudinem esse finem hominis. Et cum dicis hoc 
impossibile esse in vita ista, dico quod ista impossibilitas 
non est nota per rationem naturalem. Gum adducis 
infortuna, infirmitatem, imperfectionem virtutis et 
scientiae, respondetur quod haec omnia repugnant 
perfectae felicitati, qualem notum est competere Intelli- 
gentiae, sed non qualem notum est posse competere 


did not seem to go beyond the most perfect specula- 
tion possible in this life. Hence, having inquired into 
the nature of this happiness of man, Aristotle adds 28 : 
“To be happy it is necessary for man that his body be 
healthy, that he have food, companionship, that he does 
not crave too much or want too much”. Since we assume 
that man is capable of a speculation far more perfect than 
anything possible in this life, the special happiness 
which we postulate is not known naturally to be 
our end, neither is it known naturally that we seek it 
as an end. 

When you argue from Augustine’s proof that happiness 
cannot be anything but eternal, a person who holds that 
human happiness is possible in this life will reply that he 
does wish to lose it. For according to right reason, he 
must wish whatever is the lot of his nature. But to a 
person who has no faith, right reason seemingly reveals 
the lot of our nature to be mortal both in body and soul. 
Therefore, he must wish to lose life and therefore to lose 
the happy life. And when you say that such a life is not 
happy which had not been loved by the one who possessed 
it, this is true only if such a life had not been loved at a 
time when it was both possible and fitting to have it. But 
it is not known by natural reason that to be happy forever 
is something in accord with our nature. 

As for the other [or third argument], we grant that man 
knows he can attain his end in some individual, and 
consequently, that he knows he can attain happiness in 
the degree recognised to be man’s end. When you 
say that such happiness is not possible in this life, I reply 
that this impossibility is not known by natural reason. 
When you adduce the misfortune, bodily infirmity, 
inperfection of virtue and knowledge, the answer is that 
these are inconsistent with the type of perfect happiness 
known to be characteristic of an Intelligence 29 but they 
are not inconsistent with the happiness known to be 
within the reach of man. 



Aci quartum, diceretur quod ista species perpetuabitur 
in universo per continuam successionem individuorum 
quam poneret Philosophus per generationem continuam, 
non autem continuabitur per vitam alicujus, nec ali- 
quorum in specie. Ex his apparet quantae sunt gratiae 
referendae nostre Creatori qui nos per fidem certissimos 
reddidit in his, quae pertinent ad finem nostrum, et ad 
perpetuitatem sempiternam ad quae ingeniosissimi et 
eruditissimi per rationem naturalem quasi nihil poterant 
attingere, juxta illud quod adductum est de Augustino 
xm De Trinitate cap. ix * : Quod vix pauci, etc. Si fides 
adsit quae est in eis quibus dedit filios Dei fieri, nulla 
quaestio est quia ipse suos credentes in hoc certissimos 

* xm, cap. ix (Migne, P.L., xlii, 1023). 


To the fourth, it might be said that in the universe it is 
the species that will go on forever through the continuous 
succession of individuals. It is this which the Philosopher 
postulated by his doctrine of continuous generation. But 
it is not the life of any single individual or individuals 
within the species that will continue to exist. 

From all this it is apparent how much thanks must be 
given to our Creator, who through faith has made us 
most certain of those things which pertain to our end 
and to eternal life — things about which the most learned 
and ingenious men can know almost nothing according 
to Augustine’s statement in De Trinitate, bk. xiii, c. ix * : 
“Scarcely a few, etc ”. 30 “But if faith be there — that 
faith which is to be found in those to whom [Jesus] has 
given the power to become the sons of God — there is no 
question about it,” 31 for of this Fie has made those who 
believe in Him most certain. 



Section I 

1 The mss read either phicos or phycos. The text is faulty here 
as it is in so many other instances. Scotus’s meaning, however, 
seems clear enough. 

2 In quid and in quale are two basic modes of predication. They 
refer primarily to the five predicables of Porphyry, namely, the 
genus, species, specific difference, property, and accident, 
though Scotus extends the idea of in quid and in quale pre- 
dication to the transcendental order. Briefly, the difference 
between the two is this. To predicate in quid means to predicate 
either the entire essence (i.e. the species) or at least the deter- 
minable part of the essence (e.g. the genus). The term is 
derived from quiddity or essence and such predication represents 
an answer to the question : What is it? {Quid est?). To 
predicate in quale means to predicate a further determination 
or qualification of the essence. This qualification {quale) may 
be either essential (e.g. a specific difference) or non-essential 
(e.g. a property or accident). Since the specific difference is 
really a part of the essence or quiddity, Scotus sometimes 
speaks of it as being predicated in quale quid or in quale substantiate 
in order to distinguish it from properties or accidents which 
are said to be predicated either in quale accidental or simply 
in quale. To predicate something in quid, says Scotus, it is not 
enough that the predicate be an essential note but that it be 
predicated per modum subsistentis, which from the viewpoint of 
grammar means that it must be predicated as a noun, not as 
an adjective or participle or adverb. Predication in quale, 
whether it be an essential qualification or not, is always pre- 
dicated per modum denominantis, which from the viewpoint of 
grammar means it is predicated as a modifier. “Substance”, 
“whiteness”, “rationality”, “rational animal”, “life”, “truth”, 
“goodness”, if used as predicates, would be predicated in quid, 
whereas “substantial”, “white”, “rational”, “living”, “true”, 



1 66 

“good”, if used as predicates, would be predicated in quale. 
“Being” (ens) can be used either as a noun or as a participle. 
In the first case it is predicated in quid and is equivalent to 
“a being” or “a thing” with a singular and plural. In the second 
case, if used as a predicate, it is predicated in quale or denomina- 
tive. Used as a participle, “being” always requires a subject 
which it modifies. 

3 Ultimate differences are denominative terms that are irreducibly 
simple. In regard to concepts that designate real things or some 
real aspects of real things ( first intentions ), Scotus distinguishes 
those which are irreducibly simple and those which are not. 
Irreducibly simple concepts ( conceptus simpliciter simplices) are such 
as cannot be reduced or broken down into two more simple 
concepts that are first intentions, one of which is determinable 
and the other determining. The concept of “man”, for 
instance, can be reduced to “animal” and “rational”. “Animal” 
in turn can be broken down into “sentient ” and “organism”. 
This process, according to Scotus, cannot go on indefinitely. 
Otherwise nothing would be known. Ultimately we arrive 
at intelligible elements or notions that are incapable of further 
analysis and hence are irreducibly simple. Restricting our- 
selves to real concepts, that is “first intentions”, we can say, 
according to Scotus, that there is but one irreducible simple 
concept that is determinable or quidditative, and that this is 
“thing” or “being” used as a noun. But there will be as 
many irreducibly simple differential, determining, or qualifying 
concepts as there are different concepts, where different is 
taken in the technical Aristotelian sense. (Things differ, accord- 
ing to the Stagirite, only if they have something in common ; 
otherwise they are simply diverse. Cf. Aletaphysica, x, cap. iii, 
1054 6 , 2 3 ~ 3 °)- Since Scotus gives as examples of concepts 
that are not irreducibly simple that of the individual, the 
species and the genus, and since even such concepts must 
contain an ultimate difference, it seems that we can distinguish 
three types of ultimate differences, according to him : (1) the 
haecceilas or individuating difference ; (2) certain kinds of 

specific differences ; (3) transcendental differences, such as 

those which limit or contract “being” to the ultimate genera 



or categories, or such notions as “infinite”, “necessary”, 
“accidental”, etc. According to Scotus, not every specific 
difference should be considered to be irreducibly simple. 
Since we are speaking of first intentions we must take into 
consideration the nature of the reality designated by the 
concept. Consider the notion “living body”. According to 
Scotus, “living” is derived from and connotes the life principle 
which is a form or substance really distinct from the body 
which has its own forma corporeitatis. Since the life principle 
can be designated by a determinable or non-differential 
notion (e.g. “substance”, “thing”, “a being”) Scotus does 
not consider the term “living”, as applied to an organism or 
man, as an irreducibly simple concept. Such a specific difference 
is not ultimate, though further analysis will eventually yield 
a specific difference that is irreducibly simple (Cf. Opus 
oxoniense, n, d. in, q. vi, n. 12 ; 1, d. in, q. iii, n. 15 ; 11, d. xxv, 
q. i, n. 16). 

1 Attributes or properties ( propria or passiones) are those qualifica- 
tions which are necessarily connected with their respective 
subject yet do not enter into its essential definition. “Being” 
has two types or attributes, those which are simply coextensive, 
such as “one”, “true”, “good”, and those which are coextensive 
in disjunction such as “infinite-finite”, “simple-composed”, 
“necessary-contingent”, etc. 

6 The primacy of commonness, or better, of common predication, 
which Scotus ascribes to being, simply means that “being” 
conceived quidditatively or as a noun is predicable of anything 
that can be grasped by a concept that is not irreducibly simple. 
The virtual primacy that Scotus attributes to “being” in reference 
to its attributes and ultimate differences does not mean that 
the formal concept or ratio “being” contains these notions in 
such a way that the latter can be abstracted from the former 
by an act of intellectual abstraction or analysis as some have 
claimed. It simply means that these other notions or rationes 
are predicable by a necessary or per se predication of some 
subject that can be designated as “a being” or “a thing”. 
According to scholastic usage, if the predicate of a necessary 
or per se nota proposition is part of the essential definition of 
( 2 , 322 ) 23 


1 68 

the subject, the latter is said to ‘‘contain the predicate essentially” 
and the predicate is said to be predicated according to the 
first mode of per se predication. If the predicate, however, is an 
attribute or property (see above, note 4) it is said to be “con- 
tained virtually in the subject ” of which it is predicated neces- 
sarily and according to the second mode of per se predication. 
Since every modification or qualification presupposes some 
subject that is modified or qualified, the subject is said to 
have a natural priority or primacy in regard to the modification 
or qualification. Applying this to the notion of “being” 
conceived quidditatively or as a noun, Scotus argues that 
since “being” is the ultimate subject or determinable element 
to which every concept not irreducibly simple can be reduced, 
“being” has a primacy in regard to all such concepts or 
“primary intelligibles”. Since “being” is furthermore the 
ultimate subject of which the attributes and ultimate differences 
are predicable, “being” can be said to enjoy a virtual primacy 
in regard to these notions. Since the latter will express either 
a property ( proprium ) or an essential determination (specific 
difference or transcendental modification), Scotus declares 
that all notions that are ultimate qualifications (such as the 
attributes like “one”, “true”, etc., or ultimate differences like 
“substantial”, “infinite”, “finite”, etc.) are “contained virtually 
[i.e. as a proprium ] or essentially [i.e. as a specific difference or 
transcendental determination] in something else which does 
include ‘ being’ essentially [i.e. in something which is a primary 

Scotus alludes to the theological teaching that in the Eucharist 
the substance of bread and wine is no longer present after the 
act of consecration, though the species or appearances (accidents) 

For the meaning of irreducibly simple cf. note 3 above. 

The simple intellect or simple intelligence is a term applied to the 
mind or intellect in so far as it is the principle of the act of 
simple apprehension or intelligence. The scholastics distinguish 
three acts or functions of the mind or intellect : (1) simple 
apprehension, whereby the mind grasps the meaning of 



something without affirming or denying anything of it ; 
(2) the act of “composition and division”, or immediate judg- 
ment, whereby the mind affirms or denies some predicate of 
some subject ; (3) the act of reasoning or mediate judgment, 
by which the mind infers one proposition from another or other 

9 Demonstration, according to Aristotle ( Analytica posteriora, 1, 
cap. xiii) is of two kinds : demonstration of the fact ( demon - 
stratio quia) and demonstration of the reasoned fact ( demonstratio 
propter quid). The first merely establishes that the conclusion 
of the syllogism is true, but the second additionally indicates 
the reason why the predicate of the conclusion inheres in the 
subject. For the middle term of a demonstration of reasoned 
fact gives the cause or some ontologically prior principle 
(e.g. the essential definition) that can be considered as the 
reason or rational explanation why the predicate must be 
affirmed of the subject. A demonstration of reasoned fact will 
always be an a priori form of demonstration ; an a posteriori 
demonstration, on the contrary, will always be a demonstration 
of the simple fact. 

10 Scotus has previously discussed why God is the subject of 
theology but not of metaphysics, and to what extent theology 
verifies the Aristotelian notion of a science. 

11 “Its principle”, that is, some self-evident or analytical proposi- 
tion of which it is the subject. 

Section II 

1 For Scotus’s reply to these arguments, see pp. 30 ff. 

2 The statement of Pseudo-Dionysius that we do not know what 
God is ; we know only what he is not (Cf. De caelesti hierarchia, 
11. Migne, P.G., in, 141 ; see also St John Damascene, De fide 
orthodoxa, 1, iv. Migne P.G., xcrv, 800), was often quoted by 
the scholastics. This docta ignorantia was exaggerated by many. 
Scotus Eriugena, for instance, suggests that perhaps it might 
be more correct to say that God is not good, true, just, etc., 



since any term or concept we might derive from the universe 
of creatures is so radically inadequate to express what God 
is that it could more truly be denied of God than affirmed of 
Him (Cf. De divisions naturae, 1, xiv ff. Migne, P.L., cxxii, 4.62ff.). 
Duns Scotus reminds us that this way of speaking cannot be 
taken too seriously. If our knowledge is purely negative, it is 
no knowledge of God at all. 

3 Henry of Ghent makes use of this distinction in his Summa, 
art. xxii, q. i ad iii ; q. iv. 

4 Henry of Ghent, loc. cit., q. iv ; St Thomas, Summa theologica, 
I, q. iii, art. iv ad iii. 

6 Henry of Ghent, loc. cit. 

8 Ibid. 

7 Henry maintains that God is already known in a most general 
manner in every concept the human intellect forms of a created 
object as “this being”. Consequently, he is forced to hold 
that we cannot know a creature without at the same time 
having some knowledge of God. This knowledge of God in 
creatures, however, must be distinguished from a knowledge 
of God as He is in Himself. See Summa, art. xxii, q. vi. 

a Henry, Summa, art. xxiv, q. vi. For Scotus’s answer to Henry’s 
arguments, see p. 32. 

9 Henry contrasts two radically different notions. By privatively 
undetermined being, he understands the notion of being that 
applies to creatures. As creatures actually exist, they are 
qualified or determinate forms of being. For instance, man is 
a rational, sentient, organic, material, substantial being. 
Nevertheless, the mind prescinds from all these determinations 
to form a simple concept of being, undetermined but determinable. 
The concept of being that applies to God, however, negates 
or denies all determination and therefore is called negatively 
undetermined being. God, in a word, is not only being in 
an unqualified and undetermined sense, but His being is 
incapable of any restriction, limitation or determination. 
Therefore, being in this sense is undetermined and indeterminable. 
Now determinable and indeterminable beings have nothing positive 

in common ; they agree only in what is denied, namely, 
determination. Therefore, our so-called “concept” of being as 
common to God and creatures is in reality not one concept 
but two. But because of their similarity, the mind fails to 
distinguish between the two, even as the eye fails to resolve 
two distant objects. This dual “concept” is what Henry 
calls the “analogous concept of being”. 

10 In scholastic terminology, “indetermination” as applied to God 
is a first intention. It expresses a perfection of a really existent 
entity, in this case the positive mode of existence, infinity. 
Indetermination in the second instance, is characteristic not of 
a real entity, but of our concept of being. It is a second intention, 
since it refers not to some condition of reality but to a character- 
istic of a concept or ens rationis. 

11 Only what is true can be an object of “knowledge” or scientia 
in the strict Aristotelian or scholastic sense of the term. Hence, 
“false knowledge” is a contradiction in terms. Similarly 
certitude, in the technical sense of the term, presupposes that 
the proposition to which the mind gives its firm assent is a 
true and not a false statement. 

12 The intellect, according to the general view of the scholastics, 
is a dual faculty comprising the active or agent intellect and 
the passive or possible intellect. This division is based upon 
an obscure passage in Aristotle’s De anima (m, cap. v ; 430“ 18) 
and underwent a variety of interpretations. With Alexander 
of Aphrodisias, as well as with some scholastic interpretations 
of Augustinian illumination, the active intellect is identified 
with God. With Alfarabi and Avicenna, it is a subordinate 
intelligence or “angel” somehow connected with the moon. 
St Thomas considers the active intellect to be a faculty of the 
soul really distinct from the possible intellect. Scotus also 
considers it to be a property of the soul but regards it as only 
formally distinct from, but really identical with, the possible 
intellect and the soul’s substance. The general function of the 
active intellect is to render the potentially intelligible in the 
sense image actually intelligible. The additional specific 
refinements Scotus has given to this general function do not 
concern us here. 



13 Notions pertaining to the essence of the object (generic, 
differential or specific notions) are contained “essentially”. 
Colour, for instance, is contained essentially in redness. A 
notion is regarded as virtually contained in a given object, if 
the object has the power or virtus of producing the notion in 
the mind. In a broad sense, “virtual” is not opposed to 
“essential”, since the object has the power to produce a concept 
of what it contains essentially. In addition, however, the 
object can be said to contain virtually its necessary properties 
( propria ) or any effects it is capable of producing. An object 
such as a golf-ball could produce a simple notion proper of 
itself as a sphere and also a simple proper notion of a circle, 
according to Scotus, for the notion of circularity is virtually 
contained in the notion of sphericity. Such an object, however, 
could not give rise to a simple proper notion of a triangle or 

14 A pure or simple perfection (perfectio simpliciter ) is one that does 
not contain in its formal notion any imperfection or limitation. 
As such it is opposed to mixed perfections ( perfectio secundum 
quid) which involve both perfection and imperfection. Know- 
ledge, volition, existence, wisdom and the like are regarded by 
Scotus as pure perfections. Matter, corporeity, sense knowledge 
or even knowledge obtained by a reasoning process as con- 
trasted with intuitive knowledge, all involve limitation and 
imperfection in their very notion. 

15 For this discussion see above, pp. 4-8. 

16 Scotus distinguishes between two types of objects that move 
the intellect of a creature to knowledge, one natural, the other 
voluntary or supernatural. The natural motivating object of 
an intellect causes knowledge automatically or necessarily, as 
it were, by the very fact that it is what it is and is co-present 
to that intellect. Now the divine essence is a natural or 
adequate motivating object of immediate and intuitive know- 
ledge only in regard to the divine intellect itself. For any 
created intellect, God’s essence is a purely voluntary object. 
The reason, says Scotus, lies in this fact that God’s essence can- 
not be related necessarily or automatically, as it were, to any 



creature or part thereof — a corollary of the absolute inde- 
pendence of the First Being. All relationships between God 
and creatures are contingent and dependent upon the divine 
will, the ultimate source of all contingency. Consequently, in 
the beatific vision of God in heaven, says Scotus, it is not 
the divine essence as such that moves the intellect but rather the 
divine will. In this sense, God is a voluntary object. But the 
peculiarity of the beatific vision lies in the fact that the divine 
will motivates but does not terminate this act of intuition. 
And this is something unique in the order of objects and 
follows from the fact that God’s will is really identical with 
God’s essence (Cf. Quodlibet, q. xiv). 

17 For the distinction between a demonstration of the fact and a 
demonstration of the reasoned fact see note 9 above. In this 
particular instance, the demonstration of the fact referred to 
is an a posteriori argument which proceeds from effect (creatures) 
to cause (God). In such a process, that which is most unlike 
creatures, and consequently most distinctive of God, is the last 
to be demonstrated. 

19 See Scotus’s proof for the existence of God, pp. 52 ff. 

19 The less universal and more specific the concept, the greater 
its comprehension or intension. The concept of man, for 
instance, contains the more universal notions of “animal”, 
“organism”, “substance”, “being”, in its intension. 

20 The scholastics list a number of loci from which a dialectitian 
may draw his arguments. The locus a minori assumes that 
what is within the power of the less perfect, is also within that 
of the more perfect. Now the intellect, a purely spiritual 
faculty, is more perfect than the imagination, an organic 

21 See p. 14. 

22 See p. 14. 

23 For a description of this fallacy see Aristotle’s De sophisticis 
elenchis, cap. v (i 6 y b , 1-20). 

24 Intuitive knowledge of God is supernatural. See note 16. 



26 See p. 14. 

26 See pp. 68 IT. 

27 See p. 14. 

28 See p. 17. 

Section III 

1 For Scotus’s reply to these arguments, see p. 76. 

2 This is the solution given by Henry of Ghent, Summa, art. 
xxi, q. i. 

3 See Aristotle, De caelo, 1, cap. iii (270“, 12-13) ; cap. xii 
(28 1 6 , 1 8 ff.) ; 11, cap. iv (287“, 23-24) ; cap. vi (289“, 8-9) ; 
Metaphysica, ix, cap. viii (1050*’, 22-24). 

4 See p. 173, note 17. 

5 Cf. Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. xxxvi, q. unica, n. 5. 

8 Cf. St Thomas, Summa theologica , 1, q. ii, art. iii corpus, quarta 

7 “Natural” is understood in the technical sense of a cause 
that acts by a necessity of nature and not deliberately or freely. 
Efficient causes, according to Scotus, fall into two classes : 
(1) those which possess antecedent rational knowledge and 
act deliberately ; (2) those which lack such knowledge and 
act automatically or by a necessity of nature. See Quaest. 
in Metaphysicam, ix, q. xv, n. 4 (VivTs, voi.. vn, 608 6 ff.) where 
he divides all active powers into either nature or will. Here 
he proves paradoxically that according to Aristotle’s division 
of rational and irrational powers the intellect is “irrational” 
in the sense that it acts automatically in the presence of evident 
truth whereas the will is “rational” in the sense that it can 
freely choose to love or not to love an object known through 
reason or intellect. 

“ In an ascending order one progresses by going from the posterior 
to the prior ; in a descending order, from the prior to the 
posterior. For instance, in regard to a series of temporally 
ordered causes where one precedes the other in time, many 
philosophers (e.g. St Bonaventure) deny the possibility of an 


I 75 

infinite regress into the past (an ascending order) and use 
this argument to establish a creation in time, yet they admit 
the possibility of effects of created causes continuing indef- 
initely into the future (infinite regress in a descending temporal 
order). Scotus, as his answer to the objection that follows 
indicates, denies categorically the possibility of an infinite 
regress in an ascending order only in regard to essentially 
ordered causes. Inasmuch as such causes must exist simul- 
taneously to produce a given effect, a chain of such causes 
will be non-temporal in character. 

3 According to Aristotle’s theory of colour borrowed from 
Plato ( Timaeus , 67E), fine particles penetrate and dilate the 
medium whereas large particles compress it producing white 
or black colour respectively. Cf. Metaphysica, x, cap. vii (1057*, 
8). Hence “dilating” is regarded as a property of anything 
white, and “white” may be regarded as a per se cause of the 

10 See Aristotle, Physica, 11, cap. iii (195 s , 27 ff.) ; cap. v (196 6 , 
24-29) ; Metaphysica, v, cap. ii (1013&, 29SS). 

11 See Aristotle, Metaphysica, v, cap. xi (ioiS 6 , 9-1 1). 

12 See p. 39. 

13 See p. 42. 

14 Scotus contrasts “nature” as a necessarily acting cause with a 
free agent acting with purpose or deliberation. See above, 
note 7. 

15 See pp. 46-7. 

18 Cf. Scotus’s third conclusion, p. 46. 

17 See pp. 47-8. 

18 A univocal cause is one whose effect is of the same nature as 
itself. A father, for instance, is the univocal cause of his son. 
An equivocal cause, on the contrary, is of a different nature 
from its effect. For instance the artist is an equivocal cause 
of his painting. Since the less perfect cannot be the total 
cause of the more perfect, the total or principal cause, if 



equivocal, must be more perfect than its effect. This argument 
seems to presuppose that efficient causality involves no imper- 
fection and therefore will be found in the most excellent nature. 
Cf. pp. 42 and 45. 

19 Scotus is not attempting to prove numerical or individual 
unity at this point but rather a unity of nature. To put it in 
other words, the triple primacy is characteristic of but one 
kind of being. Whether there is more than one individual of 
this kind is not discussed here but in the following question 
on the unicity of God (cf. pp. 82 ff.). Scotus’s intention is 
expressed more clearly in the De Primo Principio, chapter iii 
of which parallels the present question of the Oxoniense. He 
proposes “to demonstrate, if Thou wilt grant it, that some one 
nature is simply first. However, I say one nature for this 
reason, because in this third chapter the aforesaid three 
primacies will be shown, not about a unique singular or one 
in number, but about a unique quiddity or nature. There 
will, however, be mention of numerical unity later.” {De 
Primo Principio, cap. iii ; Roche translation, p. 39). 

20 “Possible” is taken as the contradictory disjunction of 
“necessary”. It designates a being which exists in virtue of 
another and hence, of itself, is merely possible. Scotus seems 
to have been influenced by Avicenna’s possibile esse and necesse 

21 See note 14. 

22 Scotus refers to his theory of “natural appetite” in virtue of 
which appetite every nature seeks its own perfection. This 
“seeking”, however, is not to be understood in the sense of a 
conscious striving for some known goal but is merely the 
ontological relation that exists between a thing and whatever 
can perfect. In this sense, for instance, matter seeks or loves 
form and vice versa. In the present case the subject perfected 
and that which perfects it (viz. the end) are simply identical. 
Hence, Scotus argues that if we say the First Agent has a 
“natural love” of itself, this is equivalent to saying that it is its 
own perfection or it is itself. 



23 See Aristotle, Physica, viii, cap. vi 32 ff.) ; De caelo, 

11, cap. iii (286", 34 ff.) ; De generations et corruptione, 11, cap. x 
(336 11 , 23 ff.) ; Metaphysica, xn, cap. vi-vii (1072®, 9 ff.). 

24 A subject is said to be in contradictory potency to something 
if it can either have it or not have it. The argument here is 
this. If thought can either be present or absent so far as the 
nature itself is concerned, then to think requires some effort 
on the part of the nature and this would eventually produce 

25 The first act or actualisation of a being is that it exists with 
its various faculties or powers. Thus, for instance, so far as 
man’s body is endowed or informed by the human soul, man 
is in first act. When a man actualises his human faculties or 
powers by acts of seeing, thinking, willing, etc., he is in second 
act. For Scotus, a rational nature achieves its highest perfection 
by loving the highest good. 

26 Activum implies an immanent operation, that is one which is 
not only initiated by the subject but remains in and perfects 
that subject. Vital activities such as thought, volition and the 
like are immanent operations. Factivum, on the other hand, 
implies that the operation is transient, that is, has a term 
outside the agent. Man’s artifacts are produced by a transient 

27 Cf. St Thomas, Sent., 1, dist. xxxv, q. i, art. i ad iii ; Summa 
theologica, 1, q. xiv, art. ii. 

28 Scotus uses the term ratio intelligendi (literally “the reason for 
knowing”). The allusion here is probably to the notion of an 
“intelligible species”, which in human knowledge is supposed 
to substitute for the object in such a way as to make universal 
concepts possible. Even if one were to postulate something 
analogous to the species in regard to God’s knowledge, it 
would still be identical with His essence and intellect. 

29 Since whatever receives something is perfected by the form 
received, it would follow that the more perfect knowledge 
would be perfected by the less perfect. 

30 See Quaest. in Metaphysicam, vn, q. xv, n. 9. 


i7 8 

81 “Infinity” is regarded here as a degree of intensity which the 
perfection in question possesses. Scotus distinguishes between 
intensive and extensive infinity. A thing is said to be exten- 
sively infinite if there is no pure perfection (cf. p. 172, note 14) 
which it does not possess. Nothing, however, is said in regard 
to the intensity or degree to which such perfections are pos- 
sessed. Each pure perfection, however, is said to be inten- 
sively infinite if it exists in the highest degree possible for that 
respective perfection. Thus God would not be extensively 
infinite if He lacked knowledge and love. But His knowledge 
is intensively infinite if it is a comprehensive knowledge of all 
that can be known, including His infinitely intelligible nature. 

22 Cf. e.g. Aristotle, Metaphysica, 11, v (994°, 1-2). 

83 Scotus distinguishes between the omnipotence of God as an 
article of his Catholic creed (omnipotence in the proper sense 
of the term) and the infinite power of God (omnipotence in a 
qualified sense) as demonstrated philosophically by reason 
unaided by faith (Cf. Quodlibet, q. vii ; Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. 
xlii, q. unica). In this distinction we see the influence of the 
philosophy of Alfarabi and Avicenna. The latter, influenced 
by Plotinus’s theory of emanation, maintained that God can 
create only one being immediately, viz. the highest Intelligence. 
This creature in turn produces subordinate Intelligences. The 
creation of the earth as well as the heavenly bodies and their 
souls is the work of these created Intelligences. Even in this 
theory, however, God is the ultimate cause of all things that 
emanate directly or indirectly from Him, and therefore the 
First Cause in some qualified sense at least is omnipotent. 
As a theologian, however, Scotus could not subscribe to this 
view, for according to his theology, he believed that whatever 
God can do through the medium of the secondary cause He 
has created He can do directly or immediately if He so willed. 
But Scotus makes this much of a concession to Arabic 
philosophy, namely, that in our present state we can only 
demonstrate that God can create all things either mediately 
or immediately and in this sense God’s power must be in- 
finite intensively. We can give only probable arguments for 


I 79 

omnipotence in the proper sense of the term, according to him, 
and cannot demonstrate that God could create all possible 
things immediately. 

34 See, for instance, Aristotle’s doctrine (cf. note 23). Also 
Averroes, Physica, vm, com. 9 ; Metapkysica, vn, com. 28 ; 
K, com. 41, etc. ; Avicenna, Metaphysices compendium, 1, pars 
iv, tr. ii, cap. 1, etc. 

36 See, for instance, St Thomas, Summa theologica, 1, q. xlv, art. v 
ad iii ; Henry of Ghent, Summa, art. xxxv, q. vi ; Quodlibet iv, 
q. xxxvii. 

36 The classical definition of creation is esse post non-esse, that is 
“existence after non-existence”. The question arises : How is 
post or “after” to be understood ? The obvious interpretation 
is to take it in a temporal sense. Avicenna, however, to 
reconcile the dogma of divine creation and the Aristotelian 
theory of the eternity of the world understood post in an 
ontological sense, viz. that the nature of a creature considered 
absolutely or in itself does not imply existence. Since any 
thing it possesses in addition to its nature is subsequent to that 
nature, existence can be said to be subsequent or “after” non- 
existence. Following Avicenna, St Thomas, Scotus and others 
tend to interpret this definition in an ontological rather than a 
temporal sense. 

37 See note 28. 

38 See pp. 46 and 73. 

39 See pp. 45-6. 

40 See Opus oxoniense, 1, dist. iii, q. iii, nn. 10, 24, 28 ; dist. ii, 
q. vii, n. 42, etc. Briefly, intuition is a simple or non-discursive 
knowledge of something as existing. Abstract knowledge pre- 
scinds from actual existence or non-existence. 

41 Cf. St Thomas, Summa theologica, 1, q. vii. art. i ; Contra gentiles, 
1, cap. xlv, etc. 

42 St Thomas, Sent., 11, dist. iii, q. i, art. i ; Summa theologica, 1, 
q. 1, art. ii. See E. Hocedez’s introduction to Aegidii Romani 



theoremata de esse el essentia (Louvain, 1930), pp. 17 ff., regarding 
the particular interpretation to which Scotus is referring. 

13 In his analysis of a given entity, Scotus often arranges the 
various perfections or rationes the mind distinguishes therein 
according to an ontological priority, accordingly as one ratio 
presupposes the other for its existence but not vice versa. 
To conceive the entity under some prior ratio in order to 
discover what additional attributes are implied in virtue 
thereof is to conceive it according to a prior instance of nature. 

44 St Thomas, Sent., n, dist. xliii, q. i, art. i ; Summa theologica, 1, 
q. vii, art. 1. 

46 See p. 35. 

46 See pp. 27-8. 

47 See p. 35. 

48 See pp. 53-4. 

49 See p. 35. 

60 That is to say, a kind of one-to-one correspondence exists 
between the two by reason of certain essential likenesses or 

61 See p. 35. 

62 Cf. Aristotle, Physica, vm, cap. i (25 i a , 8-252®, 4). 

63 See p. 36. 

64 Magnitude is considered as being finite by nature. Cf. the first 
argument in the contra, p. 36. 

Section IV 

1 For Scotus’s reply to these arguments, see pp. g2ff. 

2 Cf. Aristotle, Topica, u, cap. x (114&, 33). 

3 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, De divinis nominibus, cap. v (Migne, P.G., 
m, 819) ; St Bonaventure, De mysterio Trinitatis, q. i, art. i 

NOTES l8l 

(Quaracchi, VOL. v, 47°) ; Aristotle, Metaphysica, 11, cap. i 
( 993 6 , 24 - 3 i)- 

I Cf. Aristotle, Topica, in, cap. 1 ( 117“ , 16); St Augustine, 
De libero arbitrio, in, cap. ix, xi (Migne, P.L., xxxri, 1283, 1288). 

0 This argument and its accompanying refutation have been 
added later by Scotus as some manuscripts indicate. 

6 William of Ware, Sent. 1, dist. ii. q. ii (Muscat ed. in Antonianum, 
11 (1927), 344-350). For Scotus’s reply, see pp. 9if. 

7 Opus oxoniense, prol. q. iii, n. 12. 

8 The “natural will” and “natural love” according to Scotus are 
not elicited acts or operations at all. They are merely the 
ontological relation of perfectibility that exists between what- 
ever can be perfected and that which perfects it (cf. section ill, 
note 22). In this sense, everything may be said to love itself, i.e. its 
own perfection. Only if the thing is a part can it be said to love 
the whole more than itself since the whole is the perfection of 
the part. Similarly, God as the ultimate perfection of rational 
creatures is loved naturally more than the creature itself. 

8 To use as a means something that should be loved as an end 
is a perversion oflove. 

10 Beatitude in the technical sense implies that the object exhausts 
the potentialities of the rational being so that the latter is 
perfectly satisfied and is at rest in the possession of this object. 
Such an object is necessary to the happiness of this being and 
therefore it could not be destroyed without destroying the 

II Cf. the preceding question, pp. 38 ff. 

12 St Bonaventure, Sent. 1, dist. ii, art. i, q. i ad iv ; William 
of Ware, Sent. 1, dist. ii, q. i. 

13 See p. 84. 

14 See pp. 25-6, the third statement. 

16 See p. 83. 

16 See p. 83. 


17 See p. 83. 

18 Aristotle, De caelo, 1, cap. ii (269°, 19-20). 

19 See p. 83. 

20 St Bonaventure, Sent. 1, dist. ii, a. i, q. 1 ad ii. 

Section V 

1 For Scotus’s reply to these arguments, see pp. 131, 122 ff. 

2 Henry of Ghent, Summa, art. i, q. ii. 

3 Aristotle, Metaphysica, in, cap. iv (999“). See Henry’s inter- 
pretation of this passage, Summa, art. i, q. ii. 

4 Scotus summarises the teaching of Henry in Summa, art. i, q. iii. 

G Note added by Scotus, according to the scribe of the Assisi 

6 Scotus, following St Augustine, uses the term Academician 
and sceptic as synonyms. The Academicians or Academics 
were the adherents of Plato, so called because Plato used to 
deliver his discourse in the Academy at Athens. The Academy 
continued after Plato’s death and was characterised at different 
periods of its existence by different philosophical trends. 
Scepticism, it seems, was introduced by Arcesilas, the founder 
of the Middle Academy, and later modified by Carneades, who 
dominated the Third Academy. Cf. St Augustine, Contra 

7 See p. 100. 

8 A marginal note in the Assisi manuscript indicates that the 
subsequent passage is not found in Scotus’s own copy. 

9 Cf. note 25 of sect. in. Here the objector argues : By life or being 
alive Augustine means nothing more than that the body has 
a life principle, viz. the soul, which is its primary or first 
actualisation. He does not mean that the soul is conscious, 
that is, that we are in second act. 

10 Note added by Scotus. 



11 Additional note by Scotus. 

12 Cf. Aristotle’s definition of the perfect syllogism, which is a 
syllogism of the first figure. Analytica priora, 1, cap. ii (24 6 , 22 ff. ), 
cap. iv (26^, 29 ff.). 

13 Cf. note 9 of sect. 1. 

11 Opus oxoniense, prol. q. iii, n. 13 ; 1, dist. viii, q. v, n. 24. 

16 Note added by Scotus. 

16 An additional note of Scotus. 

17 See pp. 100 f. 

18 Note added by Scotus. 

19 Henry of Ghent, Quodlibet, iv, qq. vii, viii, xxiii ; v, q. iv. 

20 See pp. 1 01 f. 

21 The acts of “intelligence” as distinguished from “reasoning” 

are of two kinds : (a) simple apprehension or intelligence 

whereby the mind grasps the meaning of something without 
affirming or denying anything of it, and ( b ) the act of “com- 
position and division”, that is, the act of judgment, in which 
the mind affirms or denies some predicate of the subject of the 

22 The active intellect, according to Scotus, is not really distinct 
from the soul. Hence, it is a more perfect effect of God than 
would be the impression or accidental effect produced in the 
soul by God, the Uncreated Light. 

23 This or some similar qualification must be added, because 
according to Scotus, the will or faculty of love is more noble 
than either the active or possible intellect. 

24 The marginal note in the Assisi manuscript, non in libro Scoti, 
indicates that the passage in the Latin text within parentheses is 
not found in Scotus’s own copy. 

25 Cf. p. 97. The elaborate attempt to “save face” for St 
Augustine in this fifth article not only indicates the esteem in 

( 2 , 322 ) 24 


which Scotus held the saint but it also illustrates the cardinal 
principle he uses in interpretating other thinkers. “I wish to 
give the most reasonable interpretation to their words that I 
possibly can” ( Opus oxoniense, 1 , dist. viii, q. v, n. 8). The 
intricate and subtle explanation that follows is typical of the 
reasoning that earned Scotus the title Doctor subtilis. 

26 According to the scribe of the Assisi manuscript, the subsequent 
section in parentheses in the Latin text is missing in Scotus’s 
own copy. 

27 Scotus tells us ( Opus oxoniense, I, dist. xliii, q. unica) that 
prior to their actual existence, God knows all possible creatures 
whether they shall ever be given existence or not. Absolutely 
speaking, these creatures may consequently be said to “have 
an intelligibility” or esse intelligibile ; this, however, is dependent 
upon the divine intellect so that one can say that God does 
not know these things because they are intelligible, but rather 
they are intelligible because God knows them. For in knowing 
the possible, God gives it a kind of “existence”, viz. that 
characteristic of the content or object of thought. Even 
though the human intellect in the present life has no immediate 
intuitive knowledge of God, of the divine intellect or its thought 
content, it still remains true that the ultimate reason why the 
notions derived from created objects are intelligible is because 
God first gave them intelligibility in knowing them. This 
intelligibility or meaning can be called the “eternal light” in 
a qualified sense. And all propositions that are evident from 
the meaning of the terms can be said to be seen in the eternal 

28 Only something that exists in the proper sense of the word 
can be an efficient cause. Consequently, we cannot ascribe 
any such causality to something that exists only in an improper 
sense as the content or object of thought. Nevertheless, it is the 
intelligibility of the object that is said to “move” the intellect 
to know the thing in question. Scotus argues that we should 
rather ascribe that causality which meaning has in regard to 
our intellect to the divine mind or intellect which gave to all 
created things their meaning or intelligibility. 

NOTES 185 

29 The priority referred to here is one of nature, not of time. 
Cf. note 43 of sect. hi. 

30 Such knowledge implies a direct vision of God and is not 
possessed by man in this life. 

31 The triangle is considered the first figure in plane geometry. 
Thus it is symbolic of the Triune God who is first in the 
hierarchy of beings. 

32 See pp. 99-100. 

33 According to the scribe of the Assisi manuscript, Scotus’s 
personal copy is left incomplete at this point. What follows is 
supplied from the Viv£s edition, vol. ix, 207. 

34 See p. 128. 

35 Literally, “It is in respect to every being whatsoever”. 

36 That is, principles evident from their terms. 

Section VI 

1 For Scotus’s reply to these arguments, see pp. 158 ff. 

2 The matter of the heavenly spheres was considered to be incor- 
ruptible in contradistinction to the corruptible terrestrial matter 
of the four elements. 

3 Subjective parts are contrasted with essential parts. The 
latter refer to the order of comprehension or intension ; sub- 
jective parts refer to the order of extension or class inclusion. 
Here the meaning is that the intellective or rational soul is a 
member or part of what Aristotle designates by the general 
term of the soul or life principle of man. 

1 Cf., for example, St Thomas, Summa theologica, 1, q. Ixxv, art. ii. 

6 St Thomas maintains that the intellect which is perfected by 
the act of knowledge pertains to the category of passive 
potencies. This is the so-called intellectus possibilis. Cf. Summa 
theologica, 1, q. lxxxv, art. ii. iii ; m, q. ix, art. iii ; Contra 
gentiles, 11, cap. lxxxv, xcvi, xcviii. Godfrey of Fontaines goes 


1 86 

even further in denying all activity to the possible intellect. 
Cf. Quodlibet, vi, q. vii ; viii, q. ii ; ix, q. xix ; xm, q.v. 
Cf. also Giles of Rome, Quodlibet, hi, q. xii, xiii. 

6 Henry of Ghent, Quodlibet, v, q. xiv. 

7 Aristotle, De anima, ii, cap. ii (424“, 30 ff.) ; see also m, cap. i 
(425“, 19). 

8 According to Aristotle, the sensory power consists in “the 
equipoise of contrary qualities in the organ”. (Gf. De anima, 
11, cap. xii, 424“, 30 s.) 

9 See pp. 138 f., number 2. 

10 See pp. 141 ff. 

11 Cf. Richard of Middleton, Sent., 11, dist. xix. art. i, q. 1 . 

12 Cf. for example, Ethica Nicomachea, I, cap. ii (1094“, 20-21; ; 
also Averroes, Metaphysica, 11, com. 1. 

13 Cf. St Thomas, Summa theologica, 1, q. Ixxv, art. vi. 

14 According to Aristotle and the scholastics, a demonstrative 
proof in the technical sense of the term must have premises 
that are both necessary and evident propositions. Premises 
known by faith in revelation are not evident and hence are 
not technically capable of producing a demonstration. Such 
premises, though never evident, may be either necessary or 
contingent propositions. For instance, “God is just” would 
be considered a necessary proposition inasmuch as it is based 
on the immutable nature of God and could never be otherwise. 
On the contrary, “Jesus Christ is the redeemer of mankind” 
would be considered a contingent proposition because the 
whole order of redemption like creation depends on the free 
decrees of God. Now Scotus calls proofs based on necessary 
though not evident propositions “necessary reasons”. The 
arguments for immortality, however, are based on contingent 
propositions and hence fail to meet the technical requirements 
for an Aristotelian demonstration on two counts. 

16 “Separate agent”, that is, a pure spirit or Intelligence. Such 
celestial beings (the angels of the scholastics) were called 



“separate substances” inasmuch as they subsisted apart from 
matter and were not destined by nature to inform or dwell in 
a corporeal body like the spiritual soul of man. 

16 “Natural agent” is understood here as one which causes 
generation and corruption. 

17 See pp. 158 IT. 

18 Literally, “existence through itself”. Technically, however, 
per se existence or subsistence is used by the scholastics to 
designate that mode of being characteristic of substance or 
substantial union in contradistinction to per accidens existence 
characteristic of accidents or incidental aggregates. Scotus’s 
reply to the argument plays upon the ambiguity of the term 
per se existence as applied to a composite substance such as 
man. Since the component elements of man (body and soul) 
are not accidents but substances, albeit incomplete as to 
function at least, each could be said to possess per se existence. 
But the same is true of any material or perishable form. On 
the other hand, since man as a whole is not an accidental 
aggregate but a composite substance, the union of soul and 
body represent a per se mode of existence, but one which the 
soul possesses only as long as it is united to the body. 

19 Cf. St Bonaventure, Sent. 11, dist. ii, pars prima, art. i, q. iii ; 
St Thomas, Summa theologica, I, q. 1 , art. ii ad iii. 

20 Confer Henry of Ghent, Quodlibet, ir, q. iii ; St Thomas, 
Contra gentiles, iv, cap. Ixxix. 

81 For Scotus, as for Aristotle and the scholastics generally, a 
probable or dialectical proof does not have the same connota- 
tion as it has for the neo-scholastic. A valid and convincing 
proof may still lack the technical requirements of an Aristotelian 
“demonstration” as defined by the Stagirite in the Analytica 
posterioia, 1, cap. ii (71 6 , 18-25) or by Scotus in Opus oxoniense, 
prol. qq. iii-iv lat., n. 26 (Viv6s, vol. vm, 183 6 ) ; m. dist. 
xxiv, q. unica, n. 13, (xv, 44*) ; Reportata parisiensia, prol. 
q. i, n. 4 (xxii, J b ) ; m, dist. xxiv, q. unica, n. 16 (xxm, 454). 
If such a probable proof is persuasive, it may even give 


1 88 

subjective or moral certitude in the sense that all prudent fear of 
error is excluded, and yet it will not produce strictly demon- 
strative knowledge or scuntia. 

22 See pp. 145 ff. 

23 Though Scotus claims that natural reason can demonstrate the 
existence, unicity and infinite perfection of God, he regards the 
Christian concept of a just and merciful God as a matter of 
faith. Cf. De Primo Principio, cap. iv (ed. Roche p. 146). 

24 See p. 134. 

25 According to Scotus’s theory of natural desire, to admit that 
human nature is capable of immortality is to admit that man 
has a natural desire for it ; for a natural desire is not a conscious 
act or elicited volition but is rather the ontological relation 
that arises between the perfectible and its perfection. Only 
in a metaphorical sense can this relation be called “desire” 
Cf. Reportata parisiensia, iv, dist. xlix, q. ix, nn. 3-5 ; see also 
note 22 of sect. in. 

26 Namely, in the beatific face-to-face vision of God. 

27 Cf. the question on man’s natural knowledge of God, especially 
the fifth statement, p. 28. 

28 Ethica Nicomachea, x, cap. viii (1178 6 , 35 ff.). 

29 That is, a pure spirit or angel. 

30 Cf. p. 1 36 for the complete text. 

31 St Augustine, De Trinitate, xm, cap. ix (Migne, P.L., xlii, 



Adam Wodam xix 
Albert of Metz xi 
Albertus Magnus v 
Alexander of Aphrodisias 1 7 1 
Alexander III, King of Scotland 

Alfarabi 171, 178 

Alnwick, see William of Alnwick 

Anselm of Canterbury 24, 73, 

7 6 

Antonius Andreas xxi 
Apostle (St Paul) 91, 92, 132, 
136, 155. '58 
Arcesilas 182 

Aristotle (The Philosopher) 5, 6, 

9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 30, 31, 36, 
47, 48, 52, 55-7, 62-6, 78, 80, 
gg, 100, 104, 107, hi, 1 12, 

I 13, Il6 > n 9> '22, 132, 137, 
'45-5 6 > ’59. l6o > l66 » 169, 
17', 173-5, 177-9, 182, 183, 

Augustine 32, 39, 71, 88, 91, 97, 
98, 100-06, 1 12, 1 1 3, 1 16, 122, 
123, 126-9, 130, 131, 134, 136, 
146, 157, 158, 171, 182, 183, 

Averroes (The Commentator) 

10, 30, 80, 134, 138, 156, 179, 

Avicenna v, 9-1 1, 40, 56, 66, 
155, I7 1 , >76, 178, 179 

Balic, C. xvii, xviii, xx 
Benedict X, Pope xv 
Berthold of St Denis xv 
Bettoni, E. xxii 
Boehner, Ph. vi 
Boethius 104 

Bonaventure 174, 181, 182, 187 


Boniface VIII, Pope x, xv 
Brockie, Marianus ix 

Callebaut, A. xii, xiii, xvi 
Campbell, B. J. xxii 
Carneades 182 
Copleston, F. C. vi, xxii 
Cratylus 1 16 

Dalderby, see John Dalderby 
Damascene (St John) 17, 35, 99, 
137, 169 
Day, S. J. xxii 

Dionysius, the Pseudo - Areo - 
pagite 136, 169 
Duns, Elias ix, xii, xiii 
Duns, Ninian ix, xi 
Duns of Berwickshire xi, xii 
Duns of Duns xi 
Duns of Grueldykes xii 
Duns of Maxton-on-the-Tweed 

Fernandez Garcia, M. xxii 
Festus 136 

Giles of Ligny x, xi, xv, xvi, xix 
Giles of Rome 179, 186 
Gilson, E. xxii 
Glorieux, P. xvi 
Godfrey of Fontaines 185 
Gonsalvus of Spain x, xiii, xiv, 

Grajewski, M. J. xxii, xxiii 
Gregory I, Pope 14, 32, 157 

Harris, C. R. S. xx, xxii 
Henry of Ghent 13, 17-19, 26, 
32, 96, 99-103, 106, 1 15, 1 18, 
120, 122, 131, 170, 171, 174, 
179, 182, 183, 186, 187 



Heraclitus 103, 116 
Hugh of Hartlepool ix 

Jerome of Ascoli (Pope 
Nicholas IV) xiii 
Jesus Christ 60, 136, 157, 162, 

John Damascene, see Damascene 
John Dalderby ix 
John of Cornwall xxi 
Klibansky, R. vi 

Little, A. G. xix 
Longpre, E. xi, xvi, xvii 

Maimonides, see Moses Mai- 

Marsilius of Inghen xxi 
Meier, L. ix, xiii 
Micklem, N. xxiii 
Mohan, G. vi 

Moses Maimonides (Rabbi 
Moses) 84, 91 
Mueller, M. xx 

Nicholas of Lyra xxi 

Oliver Sutton, Bishop of Lincoln 
ix, xii 

Paul, Apostle, see Apostle 
Pelster, F. xiv, xvi, xvii, xix 
Pelzer, A. xvii 

Peter Godin xix 

Peter Lombard v, xiv 

Philip IV, King of France x, xv 

Philip of Bridlington xiv, xix 

Plato 31, ioo, 147, 175, 182 

Plotinus 178 

Porphyry 165 

Richard of Middleton 186 

Richard of St Victor 90 

Roche, E. xx, xxi, 176, 188 

Saint-Maurice, B. xxiii 
Schaefer, O. xxii 
Sharp, D. E. vi, xxiii 
Shircel, C. L. xxiii 
Siger of Brabant v 
Sutton, see Oliver Sutton 
Sutton, see Thomas Sutton 

Thomas Aquinas v, 170, 171, 
r 74> >77. 179, 185, t86, 187 
Thomas of Erfurt xxi 
Thomas Sutton xiv 
Tweedy, W. ix 

Vier, P. C. xxiii 
Vitalis du Four xxi 

Wadding, L. xviii, xix, xx, xxi 
William, Guardian x 
William of Alnwick xxi 
William of Ware 181 
Wolter, A. B. xxiii 


Abstract knowledge, defined 1 79 
Abstraction 30 
Academicians 103 ff, 182 
Academy of Plato 182 
Act, first and second 57, 177 
Action, immanent and transient 

Active intellect 22, 30, 121 f, 
13 1 . i8 3 

— defined 171 
Activum, defined 177 
Additiones magnoe xviii 
After-images 1 1 2 

Agent intellect, see Active intel- 

Analogy, see Being 
Angel 56, 171, 186 f 

— destructible 154 

— finite 74 f 
Appetite, natural 176 
Athenians 136 
Attribute, defined 167 

— of being 1 67 f 
Authority, interpretation of 184 
Awake, certitude of being 1 1 1 

1 19 f 

Babylonians I4g 
Beatific vision 173, 188 
Being, analogous concept of 17 f, 
21 f, 171 

— as common to God and 
creatures 1 70 f 

— - as knowledge of God 18, 170 

— as noun and participle 166 

— as possible 1 76 

— coextensive attributes of 3, 

Being, concept of 170 

— correlative attributes of 9 

Being, deduction of attributes of 
8 f 

— disjunctive attributes 3, 167 

— first object of intellect 4 

— not univocal to all predi- 
cables 4 

— primacy of common predi- 
cation of 4, 167 f 

— primary transcendental 2 ff 

— properties of 167 

— ultimate differences of 4, 
166 f 

— univocity of 4 f, 20 ff 

— virtual primacy of 4, 167 f 

Body, relation to soul 149 ff, 

153 ff 

Categories, supreme genera 3, 
166 f 

Cause (s) 10 

— accidentally ordered 40 f 

— ascending and descending 
order 1 74 f 

— chance as 48 f, 109 

— circularity in 39 

— contingent and necessary 54 

— efficient 37 f, 49 

— equivocal 175 

— essentially ordered 40 ff 

— exemplar 37 f 

— final 47 f, 49 

— incidental 40 

— infinite regress in 39, 41 ff 

— nature and will as 174 

— univocal 175 f 

Certitude 97 ff 

— contingent propositions and 
1 1 1 

Certitude, disposed faculty 
needed for 118, 120 




Certitude, doubt and 20 

— experimental knowledge 
and 109 ff 

— first principles and 104 f, 
106 ff 

— logical relations and 108 

— moral 188 

— mutability of object and 
1 16 f 

— ■ of being awake 1 1 1 , 1 1 9 f 

— of personal actions 105, 
1 1 1 ff 

— possibility of 96 ff 

— presupposes truth 171 

— sense knowledge and 
105, 1 14 ff 

Change, implies contingent crea- 
tion 152 

— requires something perma- 
nent 43 

Colour, theory of 1 75 
Common good 153 
Concepts, certainty and doubt 
implies distinct 20 
- — different versus diverse 166 

— irreducibly simple 166 

— real 166 

Conjunction, of planets 64 
Contingent propositions, certi- 
tude of 1 1 1 

— not inferred from necessary 
ones 9, 104 

Contingency, defined 55 

— implies creation 152 

— implies free will 54, 173 

— mutability and 152 

— not implied by necessity 9, 

— ■ primary truth of fact 9 
Contemplation of God 14, 32 
Contradiction inconceivable 73 
Creation, defined 179 

— demonstrable 67, 1 79 

— of soul 1 50 ff 

— temporal 175 

De anima, Quaestiones xx 
De Primo Principio, Tractatus xx f 
Death, obligation to accept 153 

Demonstration, a priori and a 
posteriori 169 

— of fact and reasoned fact 1 69 

— quia and propter quid 1 69 

— requires necessary premises 

— scholastic notion of 186 
Dialectical proof 187 
Differentiae ultimae 166 f 
Disputatio in aula xv f 

Divine intellect, not intuited 
172 f, 184 

— source of all intelligibility 
125 f, 184 

Dreams 1 18 ff 

Emanation theory 178 
End, see Finis 
Ens rationis 1 7 1 
Esse intelligibile 184 
Essence, limited by existence 74 f 
Essential inclusion 1 72 
Eternal, an existential attribute 

— divine ideas in a qualified 
sense are 123 

Eternal rules, truth seen in 
122 ff 

Eucharist 6, 168 

Evaluation, instinctive power of 

19 . 29 

Evidence, see Certitude 
Evil, compatible with God 77 
Exemplar, created and uncreated 

— knowledge requires un- 
created 102 

— truth as conformity to 120 
Existence, limitation of essence 


— not known without essence 

— per accidens unA per se 187 
Experience, and first principles 

1 1 1 

Factivum 177 

Fallacy of asserting consequent 
3 D 173 



False, unknowable 20, 171 
Finality, primacy of 47 f 
Finis, agent acts for sake of 53 

— God as ultimate 47 f 
First intention 171 

First principles, certainty of 
106 ff, 1 12 

Forma corporeitatis 167 
Formalitatibus , Quaestio de xx 
Fortune, an incidental cause 

Free will, a condition for change 
80 f 

— opposed to nature 174 

God, absolute perfections of 52 ff 

— analogical knowledge of 

17 ff 

— - analysis of concept of 14 ff 
— ■ Anselmian argument for 73 

— as being 170 

— as efficient cause 39 ff 

— as final cause 47 f 

— as most perfect 24 ff, 48 f, 

93 f 

— as uncreated light, see 

— being universally predicated 
of 5, 19 ff 

— demonstration of existence 
of 36 ff 

— goal of metaphysics 1 2 

— indemonstrable attributes of 
89 ff, 178, 188 

- — infinite power of 66ff, 1 78 

— infinity of 62 ff 

— intellect of 52 

— knowledge identical with 
essence of 58 f 

— knows creatures perfectly 
60 f 

— knows possibles 184 

— man’s knowledge of 15 ff 

— most perfect concept of 26 f, 

— negative knowledge of 15, 
169 f 

God, not intuited 25 f, 31, 172 f, 

God, not self-evident 1 1 

— not subject of metaphysics 
10 ff 

— omnipotence of 1 78 

— omniscient 60 f 

— pre-eminence of 48 f 

— proper concepts of 25 ff 

— possibles distinctly known 
by 60 f 

— quidditative concept of 19 

— relative perfections of 37 ff 

— simplicity of 19 

— subject of transcendental 
predicates 2 f 

— triple primacy of 38 ff 

— unicity of 81 ff 

— univocal knowledge of 5, 
19 ff 

— virtually all things 94 

— voluntary object of know- 
ledge 26, 1 72 f 

— will of 25, 52 ff 

— wisdom of 25 

Haecceitas 166 

Happiness, end of man 135, 
160 ff 

— natural desire for 160 

Illumination, divine 97 ff, 100 ff, 
120 ff, 129 f, 171 

— of agent intellect 171 
Illusion 1 1 2, 1 19 
Immateriality, defined 141 
Imperfection, implies perfection 

93 . 

In quid and in quale predication 
165 f 

Inclusion, essential 172 
Individual difference 166 
Induction, principle of 109 f, 1 14 
Infinity, defined 72 

— intensive and extensive 178 

— intrinsic mode of being 27, 

75 r „ , 

— most proper notion 01 ijOd 

27 £ I 7 1 . 

— numerical 31, 64, 68 f 

— of causes 39 ff 



Infinity, potential 31 

— unknowable 14 
Intellect, abstractive power of 30 

— agent, see Active intellect 

— as passive potency 185 

- — formally distinct from soul 

— motivating factor of 22 

— of man desires infinite being 
70 f 

— possible or passive 171 

— voluntary and natural 
objects of 172 f 

Intellectual knowledge, tran- 
scends all senses 139 ff 
Intelleclus agens, see Active intel- 

Intellectus possibilis 185 
Intelligence, kinds of 183 
Intelligences, see Angel, Separate 

— emanation from first cause 

— soul created by 150 f 
Intelligible species 28, 118, 177 
Intelligibles, primary 4 
Intention, first and second 166, 


Interpretation of authority, prin- 
ciple of 184 
Intuition, defined 1 79 

— of God 25 f, 31, 172 f, 184 

— only of what is or can he 74 

Judgment, defined 112 

Knowledge, certitude of, see 

— contingency of existential 

1 1 1 

— essential and existential 16 

— incompatible with falsity 20, 

— possibility of 96 ff 

— scientific 109 ff, 171 

— strict ( scienlia ) 1 7 1 

Law of disjunction 8 
Lectura completa xvi, xviii 

I^ectura oxoniensis xviii 
Light, uncreated, see Illumina- 

Locus a minori 1 73 
Logica Scoti xix 

Logical writings of Scotus xx f 
Love, natural 176, 181 

Man, end of lower creation 135 

— highest happiness of 160 ff 
Matter, incorruptible 185 
Melaphysicam, Quaestiones in xx 
Metaphysics, 1 ff 

— as theology 15 

— God, the goal of 9 ff 

— science of causes 1 2 

— science of transcendentals 2 

— subject of 9 ff 
Moon, intelligence of 171 
Movement, infinite 36 

Natural agent 187 
Natural desire 152, 158 ff 

— not in vain 30, 146 

— theory of 188 

Natural pfiilosophy, subject of 10 

— relation to metaphysics 10 
Nature, absolute and in present 

state 16 

— opposed to will 1 74 
Necessary reasons 186 
Negation, knowledge of 15 f 
New Y ear, Galilean custom x 
Number, infinite 31, 64, 68 f 

— species like 51 

Omnipotence 65 ff, 178 f 
One, attribute of being 3 
Opus oxoniense xvii 
Opus parisiense xvii 
Order, ascending and descending 
04 f 

Ordinatio xvii ff, xx 

Parts, subjective and essential 

Passiones 167 

Per accidens and per se causes 40 
Per se predication 167 f 


Perfection, pure and mixed 24, 
93 f, 172 

Permanent, condition for change 

43 . 

Physics, see Natural philosophy 
Possibles, have esse intelligible 


Posterior, prior not virtually in- 
cluded in 23 

Potency, contradictory 177 
Potential, known through act 31 
Pre-eminence, primacy of 48 f 
Predication in quid and in quale 
165 f 

Predication per se 167 f 
Prima lectura xviii 
Primacy, of common predication 

— of efficient causality 39 ff 

— of virtuality 167 f 
Principles, certitude of 106 ff 
Properties {propria), defined 167 
Proprium (passio) 167 

Pure spirit, see Separate sub- 

Quando, as category 3 
Quantity, infinite 77 f 
Quiddity 165 
Quodlibet xvi, xxii 

Ratio Anselmi 73 
— - intelligendi 6g, 177 
Rationes aeternae ("eternal reasons 
or rules) g7 ff, 122 ff 
Relation, unknown unless both 
terms known 121 
Reportatio xvii f 

— examinata xiv, xix 

— magna xix 

— ■ parisiensis xvii, xix 
Resurrection 132 ff, 137 

Sceptic, see Academician 

Scepticism 103 ff 

Science (scientia), defined 171 

— presupposes existence of sub- 
ject 10 

Scotistic Commission xxi 


Self-evident ( per se notum ), see 

Senses, error of 101, 105, 109, 

1 14 f 

Sensibles, not in continual flux 

115 f 

Sentences, Commentary on xiv, 
xvi ff 

Separate substances 186 f 

— intelligible 30 f 
Simple intellect 7, 168 f 

— intelligence 12 1, 168 f 
Simpliciter simplex 166 
Singularity 32 f, 91 

Soul 133 AT 

— Averroistic theory of 138, 

- — defined 137 

— has per se existence 1 53 f 

— immortality of 145 ff 

— origin of 150 f 

— specific form of man 137 ff 

— spirituality of 133 ff 
Specific difference 167 
Spirits, see Separate substances 
Subject, prior to attributes 168 
Subjective parts 185 
Substance, not known directly 5 f 
Syllogism, the perfect 183 

Theology, subject of 169 
Theoremata xxi 
Transcendental 2 ff 

— coextensive attributes 3 

— defined 3 

— disjunctive attributes 3 
Triangle, symbol of Trinity 185 
Trinity 23, 185 

True, attribute of being 3 
Truth, as conformity to exemplar 
99 ff 

— certain and unadulterated 

— knowledge of 96 ff 

— senses an occasion, not cause 
of 108 f 

Ultimate differences ( differentiae 
ultimae) 166 f 



Unicity of God 82 ff 
Univocal concept, defined 

Univocity of being, see Being 

Vesperies xiv, xvi 
Virtual inclusion 172 
Virtual primacy, of being 167 f 
Vis aestimativa 19,29 

Volition 144 f 

Will, as nature 18 1 

— basis of contingency 54 f 

— infinite good as object of 


— more noble than intellect 

Wisdom, principle of order 53 

Printed in Great Britain by 

Thomas Nelson (Printers) Ltd, London and Edinburgh 

“Allan B. Wolter has done more than anyone else writing in 
English to render the philosophy of John Duns Scotus accessi- 
ble and intelligible." 

—Marilyn McCord Adams, School of Divinity, Yale University 

Taken from Duns Scotus's most important work, the texts in- 
cluded in this superb collection focus on five central questions 
concerned with God and the human soul— The two philosophi- 
cal topics of greatest interest to an ex professor theologian like 
Duns Scotus." The texts are presented in their entirety, in both 
Latin and English, except for certain minor marginal notes in the 
manuscript text and (where Scotus has combined several ques- 
tions into one) those portions not germane to the question se- 

CONTENTS: Foreword to the Second Edition. Preface. 
Introduction. Select Bibliography. Philosophical Writings: 

I. Concerning Metaphysics. II. Man's Natural Knowledge of 
God. III. The Existence of God. IV. The Unicity of God. 

V. Concerning Human Knowledge. VI. The Spirituality and 
Immortality of the Human Soul. Notes. Index of Proper 
Names. Index of Subjects. 

"It is a pleasure to greet the republication of this distin- 
guished scholar's translation of those texts on God and the 
soul which take us to the heart of Scotus’s thought. With Latin 
and English on facing pages, with lucid notes, and a brief but 
helpful Introduction, students will be well placed to work on this 
important writer. We may hope that those teachers who still 
deem it adequate, in courses on the history of philosophy, to 
leap from Aristotle to Descartes, as if nothing of interest or im- 
portance happened in between, will experience salutary 
prickings of the conscience." 

—Alan P F Sell, do , Department of Religious Studies, 

University of Calgary 

9 780872 200180 
ISBN 0-87220-018-3